In a discussion on the Mises Economics Blog I’ve decided the term “Media Carried Property” (“MCP”) is far more self-explanatory of the concept I’ve been advocating as logorights for three decades than any use of the abbreviation “IP” — either as Intellectual Property or even my own previous usage, Informational Property.

The implications of this debate inevitably extend not to the narrow discussion of “IP” but to all property. This will happen because at some point technology will more than likely enable Star Trek-like transporters in which matter is disassembled then reassembled elsewhere and “material identity” will be the defining feature of all property; or because human beings will enter into virtual realities where, once again, no property has a physical presence other than “material identity.”

The Transporter

In fact, any truly advanced technological civilization, if it has property rights at all, will regard an original “sample” as the only property worth having, since everything else will be replicable.

So, now’s the time to stake out the defining propertarian position for the rest of economic destiny. If the Stephan Kinsellas do manage to wipe out what they call IP and I’ll now be calling MCP, the future will eventually be one with no property rights at all.


The Libertarian Case for IP

Mises Economics Blog: The Origins of Libertarian IP Abolitionism

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The Libertarian Case for IP

“Ideas” can’t be property. “Information objects” may be property but information as such can’t be property. Only things can be owned. If a thing can be copied then it’s a thing. Property rights aren’t the property itself. You can’t point to a right. The debate about IP is a moral debate about human action, the same for any other property right. If you think a novel isn’t scarce, write one people beg to read.


The above YouTube video is probably the cleverest, catchiest, and most cogent argument in favor of eliminating I.P. laws I’ve ever seen. As a piece of advertising for a concept it’s hard to top. Bravo!

Now I will destroy it.

The argument of “Copying is Not Theft” is that by copying a novel, a song, a movie, the owner is still in possession of the original and therefore by making a copy nobody is doing anything to deprive the owner of the original of anything of value.

Clever. Very clever.

But wrong. Very wrong.

Remember the scene in the movie The Net where Sandra Bullock’s character, Angela Bennett, arrives home to find her house empty and a real-estate agent selling it? The real-estate agent has a copy of the deed to the house with a copy of Angela’s signature on it. Hey, those are just copies — Angela still has the originals … somewhere. She wasn’t deprived of anything by the act of making copies, was she?

Let’s say you graduate from medical school and get a diploma, with additional certifications so that you’re entitled to put “MD, FACS” after your name. Now, anyone copying those diplomas and certifications hasn’t deprived you of anything if they perform surgery in your name and a few patients die in the O.R. right?

Or for my last example — and you gotta love this one — you’re a scientist working at a lab that stores various viruses — weaponized anthrax, as an example — that if released could kill millions of people. Hey, you still have all your original security passes, ID’s, and clearances if someone clones your biometric data and uses it to go grab some anthrax and drop it into the Lake Mead reservoir, right?

Come on, Neil, now you’re just being arch, argumentative, and ridiculous. Get to the point — copying a book, or a song, or a movie.

I never left the point. It’s exactly the same subject.

I spend five years of my life writing a novel — go through eight drafts before I finally have it right. That’s a major investment of blood, sweat, toil, and tears.

I put it up for sale on my website as a PDF file, or on as a Kindle file, or get it accepted for sale through iTunes for reading on the Apple iPad.

The next thing I know, all these versions of my novel are free Torrent downloads for which I don’t get anything in return.

Oh, Neil, you still have your original. Copying Is Not Theft. By making a copy I haven’t deprived you of anything.

Except, why should anyone making a rational economic calculation pay me for something they can get for free? So people get the benefits of my five years of blood, sweat, toil, and tears, and my checking account doesn’t have money in it to pay for doctor’s visits and prescriptions needed to treat my Type-II Diabetes.

Or, I spend four years of my life and a half million bucks of my family’s dough — including fourteen cuts in an editing bay — making a movie. Then I put it up for sale on as a Video on Demand. Someone with software to get by any copy protection has takes my movie and presses it into DVD’s for sale in kiosks in Hong Kong … and, once again, as a Torrent.

Now before I even get the chance to sell my movie for commercial distribution — which might get me back the cash, talent, and time invested in making this movie so I can afford to make another one — people are getting the benefit of my blood, sweat, toil, tears, and cash … and I am prevented from self-financing my next movie.

If I invent, compose, or craft something original, it’s part of me. It’s part of my identity.

The basic libertarian principle of liberty starts with self-ownership. Preventing me from owning the sole right to offer copies of things that are part and parcel of my personal identity — preventing me from owning the exclusive right to make copies of what I make as part of my personal identity — is the destruction of my life and liberty … and quite literally could end up killing me.

Think about it. Please. None of this is theoretical for me. This is how I make my living. This is how I survive … or not.

Kyle Bennett (presumably no relation to the fictional Angela Bennett I referred to in the movie The Net) wrote in a comment on my Facebook wall this morning:

All of your examples are of fraud or trespass secondary to the copying. There’s a difference between my selling a copy of “Lady Magdalene’s by J Neil Schulman,” and selling a copy of “Lady Magdalene’s by Kyle Bennett,” or a copy that has different content than the buyer was led to believe it was.

Kyle admits that someone making a copy of “Lady Magdalene’s by J Neil Schulman” and selling a copy of “Lady Magdalene’s by Kyle Bennett” is committing the fraud we call “plagiarism.” Putting your own name on someone else’s work product without their authorization and distributing that mislabeled product as your own is misrepresenting the pedigree and provenance of that product to the end users. It is claiming someone else’s accomplishment as your own. It’s cheating.

So let’s look at the cases where you make copies of something I made and still keep my name on it. That is no longer plagiarism.

It’s now a different form of fraud, which in the art world is called “counterfeiting” and in the world of other commercial products — such as designer clothing or luxury watches — is called “forgery.”

Remember: my first premise here is the libertarian premise of self-ownership. I own my name when it refers back to me, my biographical details, my resume, my accomplishments, the proprietary artifacts I’ve used to generate my reputation, my personal expertise and taste. All of these are elements that when attached to my name make it a personal brand. Someone else using my name — my identity — for things not owned or authorized by me is committing identity theft — and I gave examples of that in yesterday’s article.

But let’s say I write a novel and put my brand — my author’s name on it: J. Neil Schulman. The first claim of authorship of something I write is my byline attached to the writing. In a novel this is on the cover and title page. I write a dedication and acknowledgments, giving the work a purpose and a pedigree. On the copyright page is a claim of ownership — in land terms the posting of a “No Trespassing” sign, to stake out the boundaries of ownership.

Often I will personally affix an additional brand enhancement — my signature. This is called an inscription or an autograph. That takes the particular copy from merely being authenticauthorized by its author — to being an object of memorabilia and gives it additional trade value in the marketplace. If the author is particularly noteworthy then under the right circumstances a personal signature can make an authorized copy many times more valuable than a copy that has merely the original commercial brand authorization.

You see this all the time in designer clothing lines, or perfumes, or celebrity photographs, or luxury watches. All of these products have enhanced market value by affixing a known celebrity brand.

The celebrity brand tells the buyer that the celebrity had personal input into the design, quality control, and manufacturing conditions of the product. The celebrity is risking his reputation if the quality control of the copy fails to meet top standards. This is an argument I made in another of my recent articles — What’s Your Bible? — when I argued:

As a professional writer whose name is his commercial brand, I can no more allow someone else to rewrite me as they like and put my byline on it than the Walt Disney Corporation can allow someone else to publish cartoons of Mickey Mouse buggering Donald Duck.

In a comment in reply to a challenge from a reader, I further wrote:

No true craftsman allows someone else to ruin their work and keep their name on it. A license that allows unlimited rewriting but keeping the original writer’s name on it is an abomination to anyone who gives a damn about the integrity of their work. Deal breaker. … I have contempt for people in any field of human endeavor who don’t care about maintaining the quality of their work product. If that makes me a snob, so be it. I call it having standards.

I have sat next to celebrities at conventions while the star signed personal memorabilia, taking cheaply manufactured objects — photographs of themselves, shirts, objects memorializing their career accomplishments — and charged up to several hundred dollars to sign it for a buyer — with lines around the block for them to do it.

Auction houses and auction websites make markets out of common objects that would be trash except for a celebrity having owned or used or once touched it.

A set of golf clubs or a box of golf balls is worth far more in a pro shop if the brand name “Tiger Woods” is on the label, because by affixing the name of the golf legend the buyer is being told that Tiger Woods had personal input into the quality of the products.

Anyone who copies that box of golf balls with the Tiger Woods label on it — without proper authorization — is committing an act of forgery.

Anyone who copies something I make without my license to make authorized copies is committing Identity Theft against me and some form of fraud against the person to whom they’re providing the copy: either plagiarism if they substitute their own brand or forgery and counterfeiting if they keep my brand name on it.

Sell knock-offs of Tiger Woods label Nike shoes to the wrong person and don’t be surprised if you get capped upside your head, mutha!


The questions of how copyrights, trademarks, and patents are currently defined and enforced by States are an entirely separate issue from the arguments I have been making since the 1980’s about property rights in identity and information objects.

For now I would be entirely satisfied if libertarians and anarchists recognized my property rights in the things I create and respected my right to license copies, using no other enforcement mechanism than social preferencing.

If we ever get there, I would only sign a General Submission to Arbitration with an arbiter whose legal code recognized my property rights in name, brand, identity, and information objects I create.

But if libertarian/anti-statist writers and organizations continue to deny property rights in Identity and Personal Brand — both violated by unlicensed copying of created works — the libertarian movement fails to be an effective defender of the right to self ownership — the center of all libertarian thought — and belongs in the dustbin of history along with all other failed forms of socialism that treat the individual as a slave to the wants and needs of their brothers.


Reprinted from the Journal of Social and Biological Structures, Volume 13, Issue 2, 1990, Pages 93-117


This article was originally my half of a November, 1983
debate, at a supper club meeting of Los Angeles-area
libertarians, on the question “Is Copyright A Natural Right?” I
revised my debate presentation for publication as a booklet
published on December 2, 1983 under the title TOWARD A NATURAL
RIGHTS THEORY OF LOGORIGHT and, on March 16, 1989, for on-line
publication through the Connected Education(r) Library, but it is
still helpful to understand that these arguments are largely
directed to libertarians who already agree with the fundamental
concepts of natural rights, or at the very least presume a
sympathy with libertarian and natural rights philosophy and

It is generally thought that discussion of rights is a
political or ethical issue. In fact, the argument must begin at
the level of basic epistemological and metaphysical premises and
proceed from there.

Antebellum debates on slavery hinged on the question of
whether Blacks were People, thereby having rights, or whether
Blacks were only animals, and therefore could be the property of
People. Political analyses were being made by Southerners in
which they attempted to demonstrate that, economically, slavery
was good because it benefited the Southern economy. And even
moral debates hinged on the metaphysical question: if slaves
weren’t people, but were animals, then what could be morally
wrong in owning them?

It did no good to discuss the morality or economics of
slavery until one had arrived at the simple metaphysical fact
that skin color does not definitively answer the question: What
is a Human Being?

Moral and political questions often hinge on such differing
perceptions of reality. This is one reason such discussions are
often so heated: differing premises at these levels will make one
question the sanity and logical faculties of someone who
disagrees with one’s own obvious conclusions. The feeling for
someone who has a divergent vision of reality is: “He must be
blind or crazy if he can’t see something as clear as daylight!”

So it is that on an issue involving “rights,” one feels an
opponent is not merely wrong, but unbelievably wrong. Even among
professed advocates (and practitioners, one hopes) of reason, it
makes it hard to understand how one who disagrees can be so
obstinate on so easy a question.

That there are disagreements about natural rights even among
strict advocates of them proves that the question is harder
than we might have originally thought.

Therefore, let advocates of human rights not trade insults,
but get down to the business at hand, which is establishing the
premises from which we’re arguing. Then one can either see
whether our views are fundamentally incommunicable to another, or
find basic agreements and proceed from there.


I’d like to start off with an image to have in your minds
during the course of this article–and this image is a mnemonic–
a memory aid–for a point I want you to remember.

You’re in the Land of Oz, and you come across Dorothy, Tin
Man, and Scarecrow at a fork in the Yellow Brick Road leading to
the Emerald City.

Dorothy is arguing to go down one fork of the road, and
Scarecrow is arguing that they go the other way.

After the debate between Dorothy and Scarecrow has gone on
pointlessly for what seems an eternity, Tin Man turns to Dorothy
and says, “We’re never going to settle anything this way,
Dorothy. Don’t you realize that you’re arguing against a Straw

Now, I didn’t say that just to make an atrocious pun–I want
you to keep that image firmly in mind, and I think this will

The reason I started out with this mnemonic–this memory
aid–is that I don’t want to have to answer or defend all the
theories of “intellectual property,” “copyright,” and “patent
law” that I will not be advocating herein.

So let me start out by stating what I am not talking about,
when I advocate what I will eventually be defining as

I am not talking about a grant of privilege from the State.
If it can be demonstrated to me (but I don’t think it can be)
that the only way the concept I am advocating can exist is
through the State granting it as a privilege, then I will concede
outright that it has no place in natural rights theory or
practice, and the concept should be abandoned.

I am also not going to be talking about a defense of ideas
as property, or defending what historically has been called
intellectual property. Whatever the merits of these concepts,
they are not part of the concept I am going to be putting forward
here. Therefore, any attack on “logorights” which involves
disproving the validity of ideas as property or intellectual
property will be arguing against a Straw Man.

What I am going to be doing is to put forward what I believe
to be a new and original concept of copyright–a word which I’ll
be replacing in a few hundred words as inadequately defined for
the concept I’m really advocating.

“Defining A New Concept”

There are two kinds of definitions that can be given.

The first way to define a concept is with a lexical
definition–that is, with a definition by other words, such as
you’d find in a dictionary.

The second way to define a concept is with an ostensive
definition–that is, with a definition abstracted by pointing out
with several examples just what it is you’re trying to define,
and demonstrating what is common to each example and can
therefore be induced from the examples as an isolated concept.

With a new concept, it’s always better to give the ostensive
definition before the lexical, so you can get an idea of some of
the contexts in which the new concept appears.

So before I give you a dictionary definition of this new
concept, I’m going to define it by example several times. I
think the best first example is to be found in the following

Is computer hardware the only thing that can be property, or
can computer software be property also?

And I’d better define those terms for those of you who
aren’t familiar with computer jargon.

In computer terminology, hardware is the computer itself and
all the machinery used with it–the microprocessors, the disk
drives, the monitor, the printer–and software is all the
recorded orderings of bits–recorded information signals–that
you feed into the machinery to make it operate.

And let me be exact in my meaning: because a computer
diskette–a round piece of plastic with a magnetic coating–is
what software is usually stored on, it is common use to refer to
computer diskettes as “software”–but really, the diskette is
hardware, too–and the information on it is actually the

If you don’t believe me on this last point, then listen to
the language that comes out the mouth of a computer user who
plunks down several hundred bucks for a package of diskettes
labelled “Wordstar” that the salesman said contains information
telling the computer to do word processing, if, when the user
gets it home, she discovers that she’s just purchased two
diskettes with random, meaningless characters.

Is it the diskettes themselves that the user has just paid
three hundred bucks for? If so, she just got overcharged by
several hundred dollars–she can buy a package of blank diskettes
for around ten bucks.

Okay, here’s my second example: the same concept in a
different context.

You go into a Waldenbooks and plunk down cash for a book
that says on the cover “ATLAS SHRUGGED by Ayn Rand.” You get it
home … and the first sentence is, “It was the best of times, it
was the worst of times.”

Now, what you bought is a book and this book has got
everything that makes a book a book: a binding, hundreds of
sheets of paper with printed ink impressions on it, and a cover.
Let’s even pretend that the book you took home has the same
number of pages, the same dimensions and weight, the same binding
and style of printing as the book with the composition called
ATLAS SHRUGGED. Do you have any just cause of complaint if the
composition of words inside the book turns out to be something
other than what the cover says? If you answer no, then you got
everything you paid for. But if you answer yes, then you are
saying that the composition of words makes this book a different
commodity from the book you thought you were buying, and
therefore you are rightfully entitled to a copy of the
composition of words labelled ATLAS SHRUGGED.

Next definition by example:

A college student figures out a way to put together a few
commonly available hardware items into a cheap device that
moistens stamps without having to lick them. Nobody ever has put
together these commonly available items in this configuration
before. Has she invented anything? Is there anything new that
didn’t exist before? Has she, in effect, performed an act of

Last example:

An artist does a design logo for a company’s product–let’s
call the product a stamp moistener called Stamplix. Stamplix
stamp moisteners are put on the market with that design logo on
it … and two weeks later the company’s competitor puts that
same Stamplix logo on a different type of stamp moistener they’re
marketing in competition.

Is that second company violating anybody’s property rights?

Now you might have already abstracted the concept from the
examples–but I have to assume you haven’t for the sake of
completeness. In the first case–software–what I was discussing
was orderings of bits; in the second case, the composition of
words in a book; in the third case, a new configuration of
materials; in the fourth case, an identifying mark.

And, what is common to each of these is “logos.”

“Logos” was a word used by the ancient Greeks. In fact,
logos was the word the Greeks themselves used for “word.” But
they meant a good deal more than that: logos meant not only
“word” but also “thought,” “speech,” “science,” “study,” “reason”
and “rational principle.” Logos meant the pattern of creation
manifest in the universe–what we libertarians might refer to as
the principle behind natural laws and natural rights.

Later on, the Christians adopted Logos to mean the Second
Person of the Christian Holy Trinity–identified by them as
Christ when according to them he visited Earth–and the Gospel of
St. John accordingly starts out, “In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

Logos meant “knowledge.” It’s the root behind the suffix
“-ology” found at the end of biology, psychology, technology,
ornithology, herpetology, and radiology.

Logos is the root word behind “logic.”

Logos is also preserved in the modern words “logistics,”
“logarithm”, and “logo”–short for a commercial logogram.

In using the word “logos,” I’ll be going back to what is
meant by all those usages, all of which refer to an observable
order, array, pattern, form, or identity to be found in the

By logos I mean exactly: an order, array, pattern, or form
of information which can be imposed upon or observed in a
material substance: specifically, a thing’s material identity.

It is the logos of bits imposed onto a blank computer disk
that makes it software. It is the logos of words in a book that
makes it a novel. It is the logos of an object to make it
perform a particular task that makes it an invention. It is
the logos of a mark that gives it the ability to identify a
particular product.

And it is property rights in logos that I’ll be advocating
in this article.

Earlier I mentioned that the word copyright is inadequate to
define the new concept being advocated: property rights in logos.

The new word I’m going to use for property rights in logos
is, as promised before, “logoright.”

Now, for me to defend a particular kind of property right as
being a “natural” right relating to the concept of identity, we
need to understand, first, what do we mean by “identity”; second,
what natural rights and property rights are in general; third,
what property is in general and how it comes to exist; and
fourth, how property rights are established and what they mean in

Only after that ground is cleared is it possible for me to
get to the case for logorights in particular; but by that point,
the logoright case will be seen as only one instance of a general
theory arguing that ALL property rights derive from Identity.

“Things and Their Observers”

Metaphysics as a study questions as one of its subjects what
constitutes an entity and what constitutes its identity, or to
phrase it more colloquially, what a thing is and what is its
“thingness.” Epistemology asks how we can know whether and what
a thing is. Where one begins and the other leaves off is the
main event in the history of philosophical debate.

Let’s start with several divergent views.

In the Platonist view, identity is not an attribute of a
material entity but, merely or not, an attribute of a Soul, or
Ego, or Mind viewing and manipulating this universe in which we
exist but not itself being a part of it. Existence does exist
but it is only the faculty of Reason that breaks existence down
into “identifiable” parts. If a soul/ego/mind perceives a
pattern on a thing, the perceived identity fundamentally remains
an attribute of the soul/ego/mind, rather than the thing itself
which is merely a poor copy of the Original. Identity in this
view resides not primarily in those Things that Exist, but to the
Consciousness which is apart from Existence.

The Nominalist view would be the same view of Identity as
the Platonists, except that the Consciousness in question is part
of Existence. But in any case, “identity” still refers to the
observation rather than that which is observed: existents still
have no identity of their own, apart from identifications made by
souls, or egos, or minds.

The view to which I subscribe, which I would classify in
this respect as Randian, neo-Aristotelian, or “Objectivist,” is
that Identity is a fundamental attribute not of Consciousness as
such, but of an Existing Entity, whether or not a soul/ego/mind
chooses to perform an act of identification of that Entity. This
is my understanding of what Identity means: that the thingness of
a thing is not only that it exists independent of our senses, but
that each entity has a specific nature, with specific attributes
and features, that makes it what it is independent of our senses.
Whether or not a soul/ego/mind is part of existence itself is
moot: in either case, a soul/ego/mind may impose an attribute on
a thing, and thereafter that attribute is an attribute of the
thing itself: something which can be observed, by that or any
other soul/ego/mind, as an objective attribute of that imposed-
upon entity.

Continuing: if an entity has within its nature specific
attributes that are its identity, then either:

(I) One or more of those attributes can be observed in or
duplicated onto another entity, making them in that respect
identical; or

(II) An attribute cannot exist twice or more, or be
duplicated: no two things could share any attribute, and
therefore each existent would be in all respects a different
entity from every other existent.

Since, obviously, (II) reduces to epistemological absurdity
instantly (if no attributes may be duplicated or shared, we would
have no way of inducing universal concepts from reality at all),
then logically an attribute, or attributes, can be duplicated.
And if all attributes are duplicated, we now have two existents
which are, for all intents and purposes, the same thing: two
separate existents are in the respect under consideration, the
same entity. They are identical.

Some corollary premises follow:

Corollary One: There are fundamentally two things a
consciousness can do with an entity: observe it, inducing
universals which construct percepts and build into concepts; or,
it can impose new attributes in that entity.

Corollary Two: If a new attribute is imposed on a thing,
that thing, in that respect, is different from the way it was

Corollary Three: If a new attribute imposed on an entity
changes the fundamental nature of an entity, it becomes a new
entity entirely.

Corollary Four: In the case that a particular attribute, or
set of particular attributes, defines what a thing is, that
attribute or attributes define what is the thing itself: they are
that entity’s identity.

Corollary Five: Impose this identity on a thing, it becomes
an entity of that identity: a thing of that type. Remove that
identity, it is no longer that thing.

Now the metaphysical question on which answer my logoright
position will later rest: Are two separately existing Entities,
sharing the exact same Identity, (A) identical in themselves (that
is, metaphysically the same Entity, though observably not the
same Existent, since each exists apart from the other), or (B) not
identical in themselves but identical only to the consciousness
that perceives them.

I see the answer is necessarily (A), for the same reason
that I rejected the view that an attribute can’t exist twice or
be duplicated: if no two existents can share any attribute, and
therefore each existent is in all respects a different entity
from every other existent, then we would have no way of inducing
universal concepts from reality at all: epistemology itself, by
failing to answer the problem of universals, would reduce to
chaotic absurdity.

I also believe that answering (B) at this point, even
starting with Objectivist premises, makes one, for all practical
intents and purposes that follow on this question, either a
Platonist or a Nominalist. That may be all well and good when
discussing realities beyond our experience, but it is to the
“neo-Aristotelians” or “Objectivists” that I will be directing
the remainder of my argumentation, for I believe that regarding
the universe we find ourselves within as anything less than real
leads one quickly to a philosophical discussion suited only to
the Afterlife … which is where denying everyday reality
delivers one rather quickly.

“Natural Rights and Property Rights”

Natural rights and property rights theory has a long history
of development, but it is my purpose here to define natural and
property rights then move on, not trace their history.

And, the best short definition of natural rights and
property rights I can give you is to be found in five paragraphs
from Ayn Rand’s essay, “Man’s Rights,” in the book THE VIRTUE OF
SELFISHNESS–Copyright 1963 by The Objectivist Newsletter, Inc.,
and reproduced here under the Doctrine of Fair Usage:

“A right is a moral principle defining and sanctioning a man’s freedom of action in a social context. There is only one fundamental right (all the others are its consequences or corollaries): a man’s right to his own life. Life is a process of self-sustaining and self-generated action; the right to life means the right to engage in self-sustaining and self-generated action–which means: the freedom to take all the actions required by the nature of a rational being for the support, the furtherance, the fulfillment and the enjoyment of his own life. (Such is the meaning of the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.)

“The concept of a ‘right’ pertains only to action– specifically, to freedom of action. It means freedom from physical compulsion, coercion or interference by other men.

“Thus, for every individual, a right is a moral sanction of a positive–of his freedom to act on his own judgment, for his own goals, by his own voluntary, uncoerced choice. As to his neighbors, his rights impose no obligations of them except of a negative kind: to abstain from violating his rights.

“The right to life is the source of all rights–and the right to property is their only implementation. Without property rights, no other rights are possible. Since man has to sustain his life by his own effort, the man who has no right to the product of his effort has no means to sustain his life. The man who produces while others dispose of his product, is a slave.

“Bear in mind that the right to a property is a right to action, like all the others: it is not the right to an object, but to the action and the consequences of producing or earning that object. It is not a guarantee that a man will earn any property, but only a guarantee that he will own it if he earns it. It is the right to gain, to keep, to use and to dispose of material values.”

Now, Rand uses two phrases in the section I just quoted
which give us the beginnings of what property is and how it comes
about. So I’ll focus on these then expand on them in detail.

The first phrase, when interpolated slightly, is: the
product of a man’s effort.

The second phrase is: material values which are gained,
kept, used, and disposed of.

And these two phrases lead us right into the discussion of
what property is and how it comes into existence.

“The Creation of Property”

What does it mean to say that property is the product of a
man’s–or using a word I prefer, a Person’s–effort?

Do we mean property is that which a Person “creates”?

If so, we need a concept of “creation.”

We are told, by physicists and chemists, that we live in a
universe where matter and energy can be neither created nor
destroyed, but only changed. This change may include the
transformation of matter into energy–or theoretically energy
into matter–but existence does not allow us the possibility of
creation ex nihilo–out of nothingness.

If we start with this premise then it becomes curious–at
the very least–how human beings have talked casually for quite
some time about how anybody “creates” anything.

Why do we speak of engineers “building,” musicians
“composing,” architects “designing?” Each of these speaks of
people, by their actions, bringing into existence something that
wasn’t there before.

Here’s where the concept of logos comes into play again.

Creation is a Person’s action which imposes that Person’s
logos on something which exists to give that thing a unique
identity it did not previously have.

The fundamental act of creation is the act of patterning a
logos on something: patterning notes into a musical composition,
patterning words into a novel, patterning bits into computer
software, patterning ink into a blueprint, patterning steel into
an automobile, patterning images and sound into a movie,
patterning furrows into a farm, patterning flour, water, and
yeast into bread.

There are, of course, questions about greater and lesser
orders of logos that can be brought up now. But I am not arguing
that every act of creation is on an existent that previously had
no identity at all. I am merely saying that the act of creation
is the act of imposing an aspect of a Person’s identity–a
logos–on something to give that object an identity it did not
previously have.

“The Thermodynamic Paradigm”

As a paradigm, but one which I think is useful only in
proper context, let’s consider creation in thermodynamic terms as
a localized and continuing lowering of entropy.

Entropy is that universal process which takes things from a
state of greater improbabilities to a state of lesser
improbabilities–commonly thought of as the decay of order into

Creation–the act of imposing on natural objects a logos not
naturally found–is the act of moving things from a state of
lesser improbabilities to a state of greater improbabilities.

Some specific examples: iron and carbon are both elements
found in nature–in fact, iron ore can contain carbon in large
amounts. But steel–which requires the combining of a specific
ratio of iron to carbon at specific temperatures for specific
spans of time–is rarely if ever produced by the automatic
processes of nature.

If you make iron and carbon into steel, the resulting
substance is much less probable–therefore it is tempting to use
the language of thermodynamics and say that an act of taking iron
and carbon and creating steel is lowering the entropy of that
iron and carbon. If you take that steel, and press it into
rectangular sheets of even thickness, length, and width, the
result is even less probable–therefore it is tempting to say
that the act of finding steel and creating sheet metal out of it
is lowering the entropy of that steel.

And, if you take that sheet metal, form it into the body of
an automobile, and paint it so the steel doesn’t rust, the result
is less probable still, and it is tempting to say that the act of
taking sheet metal and creating painted auto bodies is lowering
the entropy of that sheet metal.

One should resist the temptation. Taking the “lowering
entropy” argument too far into the area of physical
thermodynamics runs one quickly into problems of both fact and
theory; the comparative “entropy levels” of a car, a piece of
junk, and a chunk of ore are incalculable. Nevertheless, I
believe the “entropic” paradigm of regarding creation as a
“calculable increase in improbability” is sound within the
context of information theory, where one discusses the “entropy”
of a signal; and, in fact, I’m told there are existing formulas,
used by the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI), to
calculate the “improbabilities” of a signal being a “natural”
occurence as opposed to being artifically generated

Unless one accepts a “Watchmaker” argument about the
creation of Earth–that in fact what we believe to be nature is
in fact the artifice of an earlier Creator–bridges are less
probable than rivers, symphonies are less probable than bird-
songs, and houses are less probable than caves. But regardless
of whether the Watchmaker under discussion is mortal or deity,
engineers, composers, and architects each make their surroundings
more improbable of existing than it would be without their

For example, scientists know that Mars has water, so a
Martian river isn’t all that improbable; but photographic
evidence of an artifically constructed bridge across such a
Martian river would double the number of planets in the universe
which we would know to have hosted intelligent life … likely to
be, even without cynicism, one of the most improbable things

Specifically, then, creation is the act of patterning less
improbable substances and objects to produce things more
improbable of having resulted from the automatic processes of

“Defining Property”

Now, the only sort of creation we’re concerned with in this
discussion is the creation of property–and we find that “things
rarely if ever produced by the automatic processes of nature” is
a good jumping off point for defining property.

What we may, in one sense then, define property as is: that
which a Person makes improbable enough to be generally recognized
as an “artifact.”

If you then compare this definition with the two phrases
drawn from Rand–the product of a man’s effort and material
values which are gained, kept, used, and disposed of–you find no
contradictions and a good deal of implied overlap.

Now I want to focus on Rand’s phrase “material value” long
enough to point out the following: Rand’s definition of “value”
is “that which one acts to gain or keep” and a material value
would by her definition be “something material which one acts to
gain or keep.”

Since the question of materiality is one which will come up
again later, I wish to point out that Rand’s use of the word
material in this context did not prevent her from referring to as
property things not comprised of matter such as radio
frequencies, in her essay “The Property Status of Airwaves” in
CAPITALISM: THE UNKNOWN IDEAL or patents and copyrights in
“Patents and Copyrights,” her very next essay in that book.

Before I leave the area of defining property, I wish to
bring out what libertarian property theoretician Robert LeFevre
used for his tests in his book, THE PHILOSOPHY OF OWNERSHIP.

LeFevre asked three questions:

First, is that which is said to be property claimed by

Second, does that which is said to be property have boundary

And third, is that which is said to be property under an
owner’s control?

And these lead us to the next discussion necessary before we
get to logorights:

“Establishing and Using Property Rights”

Let me quote once more Rand’s statement on property rights:

“Bear in mind that the right to a property is a right to
action, like all the others: it is not the right to an object,
but to the action and the consequences of producing or earning
that object. It is not a guarantee that a man will earn any
property, but only a guarantee that he will own it if he earns

Therefore, a property right by its very nature refers to an
action with respect to a property.

The question arising in the establishment of property rights
is: what actions are required to gain rights with respect to that

And, the definitions of property we’ve already discussed
provide (in no particular order) the following answers to the
establishment of property rights:

That which is to be your property must be valued–that is,
you must act to gain or keep it.

That which is valued as your property must be claimed as
property–that is, it must be publicly available knowledge that
you are declaring it your property.

That which is being claimed as property must in some sense
be a product of human effort. It must be created–that is, a
Person must take it from a state of lesser improbability to a
state of greater improbability.

The claim to the property must be defined within observable
boundary limits.

And, the property must be subject to the control of the
person claiming it.

The question arising once property rights have been
established are: what actions is the owner permitted respecting
that property?

And, the question of what actions the owner is permitted
respecting that property are dependent on the question: what
rights specifically does the owner have in this property?

The best way to show the import of this is to give some

Do I have the right to build a house on this lot and live in

Do I have the right to raze the building on the next lot
over and build a three-car garage?

Do I have the exclusive right to use this driveway, or is
there a public right-of-way?

Do I have the right to eat this sandwich?

Do I have the right to divert this stream so the water
doesn’t flow to the next parcel of land?

Do I have the right to broadcast radio signals on a certain
frequency, at a certain power output, from a certain location,
during certain times of the day?

Do I have the right to take this book home from the
bookstore–and what may I do with it when I get it home?

Note than none of these actions requires the property itself
to be anything: the property right–being a statement referring
to the definitions of moral action–adheres not to the property,
but to the owner and actions that owner may or may not take with
respect to that property.

One last set of property rights concepts, and then we’ll be
ready to discuss logorights.

“Exclusive Use, Consumption, Bundles of Rights, and Properties”

From the instant a property is created and claimed by a
Person, all rights to that property are held by that Person–who
I’ll refer to as the property’s First Owner.

Since property results from an act of creation, it should
come as no surprise that the answer to the question of what an
owner of may do to a property includes its consumption.
Ultimately, an owner may exercise property rights to the complete
destruction of that property, without the consent of anyone who
does not share rights in that property.

Again using a thermodynamic paradigm, it would be tempting
to say that the entire process of owning property begins with a
lowering of its entropy, continues with maintaining its entropy
at a level relatively lower than that of the natural substances
from which it is made, and ends with consuming that property
until its entropy is as high as the condition in which its First
Owner found it–at which point it is consumed entirely and ceases
to be property as such.

What ownership of a property means is that all rights to
exploit, consume, keep unconsumed, control, destroy, trade, or
otherwise decide the ultimate disposition of a property may be
made by its owner without sharing the decisions regarding the
property–or its benefits–with anyone else.

That property–by its very nature–is owned to the exclusion
of all non-owners: any use of that property by anyone other than
the owner requires the owner’s permission.

When an owner creates a property, that property is totally
and exclusively its owner’s.

Here we have the necessity of property rights to begin with:
the origin of property rights stems from the need of adjudicating
conflicting claims about the exclusive use of something.

Since a property can only be owned exclusively, property
rights are the means of determining who holds the exclusive claim
on that property.

Utilitarians argue that these claims should be adjudicated
for the benefit of society as a whole: “the greatest good for the
greatest number.” The utilitarian premise is at the base of all
non-theistic political systems: democracy, republicanism,
communism, fascism, socialism, national socialism, and
militarism. Even the worst dictator claims to act in the best
interests of “the people” or “the will of the blood” or “the
proletariat” or “the folk.”

Libertarians, on the other hand, say that property rights
adhere not to society but to the individual Person, arising out
of the specific nature of humans having to control their material
environment in order to survive as rational beings. To survive,
a human being must be able to control the environment–that human
being’s domain. To control that domain, the human being must
identify the nature of each existent in the environment, and
arrange them all in such patterns that they contribute to the
purposes of survival and well-being.

Since the right to pursue survival and well-being is
distributed universally, no good or utility to one person or
group can be greater than the good or utility of any other person
or group. There is no possible “calculus” of good that can say
that one person’s or group’s rights outweigh another’s; a right
is a moral absolute allowing no exceptions or head-counting.

The necessity of property being, by nature, exclusive stems
from the necessity of dedicating an object to a specific
function–giving it a form to perform that function–and having
some security that the form to perform that function will not be
interfered with by someone else.

And, this is precisely what the act of creating a property
is: the act of imposing a new form on something found in a more
probable condition to dedicate it to a function that is highly
improbable of being performed without that imposition.

The creation of property, therefore, is an act necessary to
human survival–and as such the requirements of our survival as
human beings sanction our taking those actions, and those
sanctions are called rights.

Now, because the first ownership of any given property is
total and exclusive ownership, the owner can dispose of the
property in any fashion that owner sees fit.

The owner can choose to abandon the property–in which case
it reverts to a state of not being owned anymore.

The owner can choose to sell the property.

The owner can choose to break up the property into smaller
parts, and sell those parts.

The owner can turn it into junk–then call the junk art.

Switching context to the first definition of “property”
found in WEBSTER’S COLLEGIATE DICTIONARY–“a quality or trait
belonging to and especially peculiar to an individual or thing”–
it is correct to say that this property consists also of its
constituent “properties.”

And we can see from this first definition how use of the
word “property” as something belonging to an owner came about:
that which was owned was thought of as a quality or trait–a
“property” in the first definition–of the owner itself.

Therefore, it is etymologically correct to refer to each
property–each quality or trait adhering to that which is owned
as a whole–as a property as well.

This leads us to the additional possibility that an owner
may choose to break the property down into its constituent
properties–that is, each of the various qualities or traits
adhering to the property as a whole–and sell, as a separate
property, the right to exploit that quality or trait.

When this is done, a property is said to be made up of a
bundle of rights which are then broken into distinct and
separable rights–each separate right referring to a separate
action that can be taken with respect to the property in

Two cases showing how “bundles of rights” are dealt with in
respect to land use will illustrate this.

First case:

If I own a parcel of land outright, then I own all the
rights–the entire “bundle”–in that parcel of land, and I may
exercise any and all of those rights as I see fit.

As I’ve said, this is the situation enjoyed by a property’s
First Owner or creator.

Second case:

However–and this is a big however: a previous owner may
have broken up the bundle of rights on her parcel of land–the
bundle of rightful actions that may be taken with respect to that
land–and sold me only the single right to build a house on that
land. The right to dig a coal mine there can be owned by someone

In this case, then, the rights to the various actions that
can be taken with respect to it have been divided up by quality
or trait among more than one owner–and the owner of each
particular property right must exercise that right in such a way
that it does not interfere with rights held by other rights-

The various discrete properties taken from the original
property are still owned exclusively–but the original property
itself is no longer under the exclusive domain of a single owner.

We are now ready to ask whether there are, in fact, property
rights in logos–whether logorights can be property.

“Does Logoright Exist?”

Earlier in this discussion, I referred to the necessity of
imposing a logos on material objects as a precondition to
creating them as property.

That is not the question under discussion.

Having established that an object receiving an imprint from
a Person’s logos becomes that Person’s property–has it been
established as well that the logos which the Person is imposing
also can be owned as a separate property?

The answer is yes.

Here’s how it happens.

When a logos is imposed on matter, creating a new property,
the logos becomes a material quality of the property it is
imposed upon. Simultaneous with the creation of a new property,
the logos becomes the trait of that property to display the logos
itself, which includes the possibility that the logos can be
copied onto other matter and make that property as well.

Starting from the creation of a new property, the First
Owner has total and exclusive ownership of that property and all
its different parts, qualities, and traits: all its different

One of the properties included in this total ownership of
the created property is therefore the logos itself.

Consequently, if the First Owner–or any subsequent owner of
the total property–decides to break the property into bundles of
rights–and maintain ownership of some of those rights while
selling others–this is perfectly within that owner’s

Now, this next point is crucial:

Placing any restrictions on how the owner may dispose of the
property–or its constituent properties–would deprive that owner
of the exclusive and total ownership which belongs to a first

You cannot attack the rights of a total owner to divide up
rights to that property without destroying the concept of
property being exclusively that owner’s.

And, a property right not exclusively owned is not a
property right at all.

Once the property is broken up into separate properties–
each property requiring a separate right to exploit that quality
or aspect–each property right from the original bundle of rights
can be traded separately.

Remember: rights–being moral sanctions of what action a
Person may take with respect to a property–adhere not to the
property itself, but to the owner.

If you declare that property rights are inherent in the
property rather than in the owner, then you are reduced to the
absurdity of saying that property–apart from the actions of its
owner–is capable of committing moral or immoral acts.

Thus, is is perfectly within the prerogatives of that owner
to maintain ownership to the rights in the logos–the
logorights–in that property, by valuing it, claiming it,
defending its boundaries, and continuing to control it.

“Four Tests of Property”

Let’s take those four points one at a time.

First. Is the logoright of value?

Yes. Remember Rand’s definition of value: that which one
acts to gain or keep.

The owner has either created the logos–thus demonstrating
that it is something worth gaining–or the owner maintains
ownership in it–thus demonstrating that the logoright is
something worth keeping.

If you say the logos doesn’t have value, then why does
imposing a logos on two dollars worth of computer diskettes make
them several-dollars worth of software?

A blank diskette and a diskette with a logos of information
on it are two separate goods with two separate qualities: two
different properties which can easily be told apart.

Perhaps you can’t tell those diskettes apart by looking at
them, but my computer surely can: if I stick in one diskette with
a certain logos of information on it, the computer’s display
gives me an OPENING MENU. When I stick in a blank diskette–
otherwise identical–it says: NOT A VALID SYSTEM DISK.

And if a logos has no value as a separate property from that
object which it is imposed upon, why would you be upset it you
brought home the book you thought was ATLAS SHRUGGED and found
that the first sentence was not, “Who is John Galt?”

To state the principle explicitly:

If a logos has no value in itself, then removing it from the
objects on which it is found should make no difference in the
values found in those objects.

As a corollary: the value of the logos is demonstrated by
removing it from an object and seeing whether that object is
valued as a separate good or commodity.

Second. Does the owner claim the logoright?

Yes: and here’s where the term copyright may be used exactly
for once.

Copyright is a claim of a logoright–and the claim is made
by embedding what is called a “Copyright Notice” onto the logos
being claimed–putting anyone finding that logos on notice that
the property rights in logos are owned and not open for a new

The nearest equivalent in common law requires the posting of
No Trespassing signs on land if you wish to preserve the
exclusivity of your property rights to prevent the land from
lapsing into being a public thoroughfare.

I might also add at this point that registration of the
copyright is the exact equivalent to the registration of the deed
on a piece of land: a formal recorded proof that the property
rights are claimed as of a certain date by a certain owner.

Such registration, of course, need not be with a State, but
merely with a person, company, or organization generally trusted
to maintain such records.

As an example of private copyright registration: the Writers
Guild of America maintains an office for depositing copies of
screenplays and screen treatments as proof that a certain person
had possession of it on a certain date. Such proof is commonly
used in private arbitrations, performed by the Writer’s Guild,
regarding disputes over rights and credits.

Third. Can the owner of the logoright ascertain the
boundaries of her property rights–that is, are there limits to
that which is being claimed?

The answer to boundaries–limits–on a logos is again “yes.”
But–and this is a crucial point to be understood–limits always
are dependent on the nature of the property right being claimed.

When one speaks of boundaries of property rights in land,
one speaks of dimensions of area.

When one speaks of property right boundaries in the radio
spectrum, complaining that there are no boundaries of an
electromagnetic wave’s area would be meaningless: in defining the
limits of that kind of property, one rightly speaks of limits in
an electromagnetic wave’s amplitude and frequency.

And, when one speaks of the property boundaries on a logos,
one speaks of the limits of identity, the signal of which is
defined and limited by the principles of information theory, and
the content of such signal which must be defined by each use to
which the information can be put.

In discussing the identity of a logos as a signal, one
discusses its limits and boundaries in terms of the minimum
number of informational bits necessary to identify that logos as
a distinct creation, the resolution of a logos, the threshold of
predictability of that logos as against background noise, and
other criteria commonly used in dealing with information storage
and transmission.

In discussing the identity of the logos as content, one must
make a metaphysical argument. Since by definition, each logos
has a specific informational identity that differentiates, binds,
and delimits its nature–the qualities and traits through which
it is capable of being exploited–the boundary limits here are
set by its identity itself.

Now, I can anticipate the following question at this point:
Since a logos can be copied infinitely without depriving the
owner of the original, how can you say that a logos is a scarce
resource and therefore an economic good?

The first answer here is: The scarcity of a logos is a
function of its being, like all other kinds of property, a
product of human effort. Someone had to put work–the scarce
resource of human labor–into the production of the logos in the
first place–and storing that labor in a recorded form–
patterning the logos into a material object as a material value–
constitutes the creation of a scarce good–a property.

But the answer here that I prefer to give is: if this logos
is so damned unlimited as not to be an economic object–then why
do you want to reproduce mine?

The limits on this kind of good are not drawn by its
infinite ability to replicate itself, which is a way in which the
logos is not limited. However, just as property rights in the
radio spectrum are not limited by area but by amplitude and
frequency, the limits on logoright are not to be found in its
ability to be infinitely reproduced, but in the finite identity
to be exploited for its qualities and traits that distinguish any
given logos from any other logos.

In terms used by economists, when defining the scarcity of a
logos we must look to limits of horizontal competition between
different kinds of goods, rather than to the limits of vertical
competition within a kind of good.

The fourth and last test: does the logoright’s owner control
the logoright?

Most definitely, in three ways:

The owner of a logos controls property rights in that logos
by maintaining ownership of the logoright and “licensing”–that
is, leasing–the various rights.

The owner of a logos, through limiting the license to
reproduce the logos, is preserving the integrity of that logos.

And, the owner of a logos is using that logos as a
producer’s good to create consumer’s goods.

You hear libertarians speak a lot about human rights and
property rights–but what I’m most used to hearing about–as a
working writer–are primary rights and subsidiary rights:
hardcover rights, trade paperback rights, mass-market paperback
rights, electronic rights, first serial rights, transcription
rights, character rights, story rights, merchandising rights,
dramatic rights, movie rights, episodic TV rights, live TV
rights, radio rights, English rights, and foreign language

Each of these is a separate right in the bundle of rights
created with the original property–a separate action to be
performed by using the logos–and each one can be sold or
licensed separately as the logoright owner wishes.

“If A Thing Can Be Copied, Then It’s a Thing”

Traditional arguments against copyright have begun by asking
how one is depriving a person of her property by copying it and
using the copy, since presumably the owner still has the

I submit that the first question is not whether someone’s
rights are being violated by copying but whether, in fact,
anything exists which can be copied.

If a human being isn’t performing an act of creation by
imposing an identity on an existent making it a new entity, then
there is literally no thing which can be copied in the first
place. If there is something distinct and observable which can
be copied, the case for it having been newly created by someone
is already made, and–to the propertarian who already believes
that that which is newly created is the property of its creator–
the case for exclusive property rights in that new thing follow
directly upon the self-evident axiom of property identity.

Conversely, if there is no identity to speak of, then there
is nothing there to be copied that is distinguishable from
anything else, and there is no question to debate at all. The
pro-unlimited-copying case bites its own tail in saying that that
which may be copied without limit does not exist at all, and
therefore the argument reduces itself to absurdity.

The rule by which one recognizes an axiom is that if denying
something logically requires that itself which is being denied,
then that which is being denied is self-evident. Therefore, the
pro-unlimited-copying case just reaffirms the axiomatic nature of
the material identity of that which is being copied as a distinct
entity–material identity being the definition of a logos which I
presented earlier in this article. Denying the very existence of
material identity as a distinguishable property of a thing leaves
no Distinguishing Property to debate further.

Since That which one Creates, Owns, Consumes, Buys, and
Sells is an Entity, not merely an Existent, then it is irrelevant
that the Identity (thingness, if you will) can be observed in or
duplicated onto more than one Material Existent. What a Creator
Creates, what an Owner Owns, is an Entity (including that
Entity’s Identity) and it is a reductionist argument to a thing’s
materiality as an existent, rather than its being an entity
having identity, to deny ownership because more than one existent
is involved.

The “lack of scarcity” argument fails in not recognizing
that the scarcity, on which the concepts of property
and economics rest, refer to the scarcity of an entity qua its
identity: it is scarce by being limited to its identity. It can
be no other. That an entity can be in or on more than one
existent is irrelevent to the questions of ownership.

When it comes to questions of identity, the copy IS the
original; an entity is an entity: A is A.

One may wish, at this point, to expand the discussion to
entities which are similar but not exactly identical, and put
forward the position that each copy is a different entity as well
as a different existent.

The discussion would then have to continue to take in
boundary effects and threshhold limits of which attributes define
an entity and which do not, but the principle would remain
intact. Such boundary problems and threshhold effects relate to
all questions of ownership and property–otherwise shining a
flashlight onto someone’s lawn could be considered, on the face
of it, photon invasion of that property. Obviously whether
damage is or is not done to the lawn has to be asked at some
point: this is what I mean by boundary limits and threshhold

It strikes me that the clearest illustration I can give that
property rights are dependent on a thing’s identity, not merely
on its material existence, is the following question: have I
violated your property rights if I pulverize your car, but leave
you in possession of every microgram of dust?

Answering no defeats one’s argument by reducing to

But if one answers yes, then what one is claiming ownership
of was a thing–an entity–and one must claim that by removing
the identity of that thing I have violated one’s property rights.
This concedes that property rights are bound to the identity, as
well as the mere existence, of a property, and if this is so,
then does it not follow that the ownership of that property’s
identity is as exclusive to its owner as everything else about

Thus, to a propertarian, my logoright case is proved by the
Law of Identity alone, regardless of whether my further
theorizing regarding a thermodynamic model of property-creation
furthers my case or does not.

“Refinements and Objections”

This next section will treat some of the objections to
logoright that were brought out both during and after the debate
for which this article was originally written, and refine the
concept to demonstrate how these objections do not invalidate it.

Objection One: A logos is nothing tangible; it is an idea
and therefore not capable of being owned.

Answer: I am answering an objection usually brought against
copyrights and patents because these have been defined as the
products of ideas, and defended with the concept of “intellectual

But the theory of logorights as presented herein does not
treat logos as being a product of an idea: it is treated simply
in terms of information which is observable in material form.

“Information”–as a term used in information theory–does
not require that which is being dealt with as information to have
meaning or purpose; it need only perform a function. Information
is a mathematical, rather than a teleological, concept.

As such–speaking colloquially–we’re in a whole new
ballgame when discussing a concept of property rights in logos,
which is a discussion not of “intellectual property” but of
“informational property.”

Objection Two: By saying that only the owner of a logoright
is entitled to the profits from making a copy, aren’t you denying
the profits accruing to the labor of those who copy it?

Answer: Not at all. Copying a logos is a separate act from
creating a logos, and must be compensated separately. If I write
a logos on a manuscript, I must pay someone if I am to be
entitled to their labor in copying it–and if they copy it onto
their own materials, I must pay for that, too. This happens
every time a manuscript is taken to a quick printing store to
make copies.

However, the question really being asked is: doesn’t the
labor of copying something entitle someone to the rights accruing
to the ownership of the logos?

And the answer to that question is a clear no. That labor
is involved in copying something makes no statement and produces
no claim over someone else’s property.

If it did, the labor used in stealing a car could be used as
a case for transfer of property rights in that car.

Property rights must be determined first, then and only then
do questions about the profits accruing to labor done on or with
that property arise.

The most exact analogy here to the taking of a property,
applying labor, and producing additional properties is that of a
factory–let’s say for simplicity that it’s an automobile

The factory as a property is a “producer’s” good, and it is
owned by whoever created that factory or the owner’s market
descendants. Workers come into the factory and–applying their
labor on new materials using that factory–produce the consumer’s
good of the automobile.

Would one therefore conclude that the workers own the
automobiles they are producing?

If you say that, then you are back to “labor theory of
value” and discount the necessity of capital in the production of

Even if the workers were bringing their own raw materials
into the factory and producing automobiles, this would not be
sufficient to establish their titles over the produced
automobiles: it would first have to be established that they had
the right to use the factory as a producer’s good.

Likewise, the logos is a producer’s good for which the
rights must be obtained before it may be used to create
additional goods–whether those goods are additional producer’s
goods or consumer’s goods.

Objection Three: How can you say that a logos is a separate
property since it can be imposed on someone else’s property?

Answer: the same way that a house can be a separate property
from the land it is on.

Objection Four: What about two or more people who come up
with the same invention or story independently? Who owns the
logos then?

Answer: As I’ve discussed earlier, creation means the taking
of something from a state of greater probability to a state of
lesser probability.

To the extent which a given logos of invention or story can
be produced independently more than once, to that extent the
probability is still great enough to question whether an act of
creation has been performed at all.

One of the objections brought against copyrights and patents
can be dealt with this way: that a person being sued for
infringing on a previous copyright or patent has had the burden
of proof in demonstrating that their story or invention is a
separate and distinct creation from that which they’re accused of

Here is precisely a case where information theory provides
answers to definitional problems that previous theories were
unable to deal with.

By using a process of correlation of the information in each
logos, one can find out precisely how much overlap exists between

Only if the correlation is proven by the petitioner to be
significant enough to warrant a charge of copy infringement would
independent creation have to be established as a defense by a
respondent. If the respondent succeeds in demonstrating
independent creation, then the petitioner’s original “creation”
wasn’t inherently improbable, therefore questionable as a unique
creation–and therefore possibly not property at all–for either
of them.

In a practical sense, however, I think twin logoses of
sufficient complexity and resolution to be considered created
property at all are about as likely as a million monkeys typing
for a million years and producing the play Hamlet.

Objection Five. What about a case where a randomly
generated logos is found and claimed as property? Has an act of
creation taken place? Can there be property rights in something
randomly or accidentally produced?

Answer: Any given logos–to be considered a logos at
all–must be, in some sense, unique. The shape of a blade of
grass is neither complex enough nor uncommon enough to qualify as
a logos. Where a unique array has been produced by random or
natural processes–and a person decides, for whatever reasons–
that it is worth preserving, it is the act of preserving that
array that is the essential act of “increasing improbabilities”
which is the definition used herein for the creation of a logos.

Objection Six. What about a person who copies a logos
accidentally? Isn’t that person potentially a victim of the
owner of the logoright?

Answer: this case is exactly equivalent of an accidental
trespasser on someone’s land.

In common law decisions, it has been determined that land
must be clearly posted with No Trespassing signs to remove the
liabilities involved in a trespasser coming to harm on your land.

The “Copyright Notice” is prominently placed on a logos for
the same reason: to warn trespassers that they are responsible
for their own liabilities if they violate the owner’s property

Objection Seven. Isn’t the “Doctrine of Fair Usage” you
relied on before an admission that the exact point at which using
a logos becomes a property violation can’t be determined

Answer: No.

The “Doctrine of Fair Usage” is a legal definition in use
under current–and admittedly statist–copyright laws.

It is a utilitarian decision that says that so long as the
use of part of a copyrighted work is educational or isn’t a
significant enough part to adversely affect the market value of
that work, it will be considered that the property owner is going
to allow this as a courtesy to the public–whether that owner
likes it or not.

Nevertheless, the utilitarian basis of this decision does
overlap similar common law decisions regarding courtesies and
rights of access in private lands–which is also a utilitarian

As a strict propertarian, I would have to say that the use
of the smallest identifiable part of a logos–that is,
identifiable by an objective process such as correlation–
requires its owner’s consent.

However, as the owner of a number of logoses, myself, I am
willing to allow “fair usage” as a general courtesy to the
public, which includes many logos owners some of whom have
logorights not protected by the State, and I am presuming–until
otherwise challenged by a particular logos owner–that such
courtesy is also being granted to me.

I do, of course, risk having to pay restitution if my
assumption of reciprocal courtesy turns out to be mistaken.

Objection Eight. Doesn’t a logoright restrict the contents
of a person’s mind? Are you going to say a logos can’t be
memorized–that is, the logos imposed on a human brain? Are you
going to then say that a person can’t use the memorized contents
of her own mind in any way she sees fit–including the imposition
of it on matter?

Answer: Assuming that the logos can be taken intact into a
human brain, then that copy of the logos has been swallowed by
that person–in the same way that if I take a diamond and swallow
it, that diamond ceases to exist as recoverable property while it
is in my stomach.

In neither case would someone have a right to violate the
boundaries of that person’s sphere of self-ownership to retrieve
either the swallowed diamond or the swallowed logos.

However, swallowing someone else’s property does not
constitute a transfer of property rights, which–being a
statement of morally permissible action relating to a property–
attach not to that property but to the owner.

Swallowing someone else’s property does not constitute in
itself a transfer of property rights to that property, even
though the owner of the swallowed property may not invade you to
retrieve it.

Moreover, if while that logos resides within you it
stimulates better digestion–that it, aids you in creative
efforts of your own–then that good digestion is yours to keep,
regardless of whatever rights the logos’s owner may have in the
logos itself.

But if the person who swallowed the logos reimposes that
logos on outside matter–if the person redraws the blueprint from
memory or retypes the novel from memory or reproduces an
invention from memory–then the logos to be found in matter must
still be regarded as the property of the logoright’s owner: in
essence, the person reproducing the logos without obtaining the
rights has just regurgitated or passed the diamond again, and the
true owner has the right to demand that her property be returned.

Objection Nine. What about the reenactment or performance
of a logos–such as singing in my shower? Since I am not copying
or reimposing on matter that logos, how can I be said to be
violating the logos owner’s rights?

Answer: Logoright is not, per se, copyright–restricting
only the right to copy onto matter. Logoright refers to any use
of a logos, each use of which is a separate right in the bundle
of rights created with the logos.

Again: “right” refers to an action which a person may or my
not take with respect to a property.

The right to reenact or perform a logos is a use of that
logos, and often–such as with live performances of musical
compositions or plays–the rightful use must be licensed from the
logos owner.

However, in all the cases of copyright I have ever heard
about, I have never heard of someone being successfully sued for
singing someone else’s song in the shower. Presumably this is
not a public performance?

I suspect the absence of such case law would survive the
demise of the State and its copyright laws, to a society which
recognizes and enforces the concept of logoright.

Objection Ten. Isn’t it a historical fact that as soon as
printing presses were invented kings began handing out copyright
protection? Isn’t this proof that copyright has always been
nothing more than another grant of monopoly by the State, and a
privilege that is dependent on the State for its existence? Even
today, isn’t it the existence of copyright laws itself that has
led to the domination of publishing by a few oligopolies?
Doesn’t a value-free analysis of the publishing market
demonstrate that eliminating copyrights wouldn’t affect authors
much since (a) most books published are for the first time and
(b) an author’s royalties are only a small percentage of the
price of a book? Since most of the income an author receives
comes up front as an “advance,” isn’t it true that an outright
sale from an author to a publisher wouldn’t make much difference
to the author anyway?

Answer: These arguments were raised by Samuel E. Konkin III
in an article titled “Copywrongs,” published in a magazine titled
THE VOLUNTARYIST in the year following the debate that sparked
this article. Since the editor of THE VOLUNTARYIST at the time
was Wendy McElroy, who was the other half of this debate, I took
her commissioning of Konkin to write on this subject as a
reaction to my presentation. Since Konkin is a long-time
libertarian ally, and one with whom I have usually sided on most
issues, I found it worthwhile to write a response to his article.
THE VOLUNTARYIST did not, however, see fit to print my response.
Some of the more general arguments contained in my unpublished
reply to Konkin have been incorporated into this version above;
the segment that I include here deals directly with Konkin’s
arguments, and I’ve eliminated duplication of text used elsewhere
in this article. I’ve also updated my reply as necessary. Those
wishing a copy of the original “Copywrongs” article can obtain it
from Samuel Edward Konkin III, P.O. Box 1748, Long Beach, CA

Herewith my reply to Konkin’s “Copywrongs”:

“To start off with, I am dubious regarding the usefulness of
concentrating on a value-free or even value-laden analysis of
copyright until a factual metaphysical question is settled: is
that which copyright protects with the status of property rights
something which actually exists, or is it, at best, a delusion
and, at worst, a vicious fraud? …

“Of course Sam did say that ‘The point of all this vulgar
praxeology is not just to clear the way for the moral question.
The market (praise be) is telling us something. After all, both
market human action and morality arise from the same Natural

“And so I agree with Sam in principle, if not with his
application. The question is: what is the natural law here? The
answer is: the Law of Identity. …

“But even leaving this aside–if one can leave metaphysical
facts aside–Sam’s value-free economic case is standing on
quicksand, since he is arguing from empirical observation of
current market conditions–a dangerous thing for a libertarian to
do, since it can so easily be turned back against us.

“For example, we argue in libertarian theory that monopolies
can’t arise in a free market. A liberal then points to existing
monopolies. And we retort, ‘We don’t have a free market today to
point at–what you’re seeing is monopolies in a state-controlled
economy.’ And, Sam would have to agree that the market his
empirical case examines is state-controlled, since he’s arguing
that the current market is structured by, among other factors,
the current copyright laws.

“But, copyright is only one of the many ways the state has
intervened into the publishing industry. (I assert that the
effect is largely neutral as compared to a purely propertarian
marketplace since the state intervention roughly parallels the
actual property rights.) In the publishing industry, as in all
other industries, there has been endless non-copyright state
intervention: limited liability laws, anti-trust suits preventing
publishers from owning bookstores, labor laws creating union
shops, wartime paper rationing, interstate commerce regulations,
obscenity laws, tax laws, postal and shipping regulations, FCC
regulations, etc.

“I would therefore caution anti-copyright debaters of a
libertarian persuasion to be very hesitant at looking at any
current market condition and categorically asserting that any
particular factor, such as copyright, is the final cause of any
particular market end state, even though–in Sam’s observation
that most of that which is published today is for the first
time–I believe Sam has, in fact, shown a final cause which
destroys his own praxeological case.

“I would also caution anti-copyright libertarians against
assuming their conclusion in using anti-monopoly and ‘privilege’
rhetoric against copyright. Arguments against ‘monopoly
privilege’ in the exclusive ownership of a logos ignore the
fundamental difference between all property rights, which are
monopolistic in the sense of being held exclusively, and monopoly
practices, which are invasive.

“Moreover, that printing presses and state grants of
copyright protection arose at the same time in history is not
conclusive evidence that the state was not protecting that which
would be considered property in a stateless society anyway. It
is only circumstantial evidence of two events coinciding–a
‘coincidence.’ The same ‘argument from coincidence’ could be
used against any property right–proper or not–arising from new
technology under current state law. Since the state claims the
airwaves as ‘public property’ which as a ‘scarce resource’ is
licensed ‘in the public interest,’ are we likewise–by the
argument from coincidence–supposed to conclude that broadcast
frequencies are not potential property?

“But let me focus on Sam’s contention, at the foundation of
his economic case, that for Big Publishers, ‘royalties are a
fraction of one percent of multi-million press runs.’

“It just ain’t so. Let’s take, as an example, the 1986
Avon edition of my novel, THE RAINBOW CADENZA. The raw
manufacturing cost of each book–typesetting, printing, and
binding–was roughly $0.60. My royalty was 8% off a cover price
of $3.50. This is a royalty of $0.28 per book, or about 47%
added to publisher’s cost over manufacturing. Hardly negligible,

“This is a base cost figure before they start figuring in
editorial salaries, commissioning cover art, office overhead,
advertising–all of which are start-up costs for an original
edition of a book in addition to buying ‘rights’ from the
author–before then calculating in markups to wholesalers,
shipping costs, percentage of returns, etc.

“Now, consider that without copyright protection–statist or
otherwise–four days after a book starts selling well (that’s all
it takes to manufacture and distribute an ‘instant book’) any
reprint publisher could come out with its own competing edition
of a book–at a huge discount since this publisher wouldn’t have
to pay any of the start-up costs: royalties, editorial salaries,
typesetting costs, commissioning cover art–anything other than
pure manufacturing and distributing costs. I expect that the
competitor’s copy edition could be put on the market for about
half the price of the original edition. The first publisher
would be stuck with all the risk and startup costs, then be
undersold by half by a competitor’s edition.

“In purely economic terms, what publisher would risk
investing in publishing a book knowing that if he or she hits it
lucky with a book anyone actually wants, everyone else will get a
much-lower-risk return on investment?

“The publishing industry would quickly become a game with
One Rule: Let George Do It. If you think a book might make
money, reject it. With luck, someone else (somebody real stupid)
will take the risk of publishing it first, and you can clean up
by knocking off a cheap reprint after it’s been developed and
market-tested at your competitor’s expense.

“Thus, all economic incentives would shift from being first
on the market with a product, to being second. Original
publishing would cease to be a profitable market at all. If, in
a market with copyrights, Sam sees the great majority of
publishing being first-time, and a much smaller amount being
reprint, then this statistical distribution is an effect of the
existence of copyright in the marketplace to begin with. Remove
this causative factor, making reprint publishing more profitable
than start-up publishing, and value-free deductive logic leads
directly to the conclusion that the reverse would be true:
reprint would be the rule, and original printing would be the

“This structure of publishing in a copyright-free market
would be that of a regressive industry, at first largely
parasitic on works created before the abolition of copyright
(unless we assume copyright never to have existed at all, in
which instance there is a case to be made that publishing never
would have become an industry at all) and later dependent for its
product on those persons not at all motivated by the desire to
make a livelihood out of authoring. What would be left to be
published would be the works of hobbyists, dilettantes,
psychological ‘flashers,’ and preachers. Perhaps this might
leave something worthwhile to be published–a work occasionally
by a J.R.R. Tolkien–but it would certainly never have produced a
Robert A. Heinlein, who started writing to pay off a mortgage.
Even the Tolkien case is questionable, considering how offended
he was that Ace Books took advantage of the accidental omission
of copyright on THE HOBBIT and THE LORD OF THE RINGS to reprint
his works without his permission.

“Thus, beginning by denying the Law of Identity and the
specific nature of that which is being written and published, Sam
ends by eliminating both authorhood qua work and publishing qua
industry. Just as C.S. Lewis demonstrated how denying the
existence of objective referents for standards of subjective-
valuation would logically result in the Abolition of Man, the
logic of praxeology demonstrates how denying the objective
identity of a Created Work would logically result in the
Abolition of Creative Industry.

“And if, as Sam states, that ‘both market human action and
morality arise from the same Natural Law,’ then my praxeological
analysis should give one a pretty clear indication that my case
that copyright is protection of natural rights in logo-property
(primarily a metaphysical, rather than moral, case, since I’m
arguing that logoright derives from the Law of Identity) follows
as well.”

“An Ill-Tempered Conclusion”

Now. If after all this you still think a logos can’t be
property because it isn’t a “scarce economic good,” or if you
think creation isn’t essential to the origin of property–then
compose your own damn symphonies, write your own damn novels,
invent your own damn computer–much less figure out how to
program it–design your own damn houses, film your own damn
movies, and come up with the damned recipe for bread on your own,
–because a person who makes his or her living by creating a
logos for license isn’t going to work for free.

If logorights aren’t recognized as property, a Creator of a
logos is left with two choices: limit the circulation of the
logos only to those who sign contracts agreeing not to copy it–
and pray that someone doesn’t accidentally leave a copy
unprotected for an hour in the vicinity of a Xerox machine or
camera–or produce only the least-labor-intensive sort of logos
that can be quickly exploited in the time before someone can
undersell the licensed product by reproducing its logos without
having to pay royalties.

If you don’t think a logos is a scarce good, you’ll find out
how scarce it is damned quickly if you declare open season on
ripping them off.

And, yes. I did say “rip off.” Logorights are property
rights–and they are entitled to the same respect and protection
as property rights in land, butter, guns, cars, radio
frequencies, and gold that I have heard property rights advocates
defending endlessly.

Just as the communist anarchist argues that it is only the
monopolistic grants of privilege from the State that makes
property itself possible, so the anarchist opponent of copyright
has been arguing that it has been only the monopolistic grant of
protection from the State that makes copyright possible. Both
are making the same error.

If anything, the State is constantly violating logorights by
imposing through fiat the State’s own copyright laws on logoright

And that is why, as a propertarian anarchist, I proudly
declare that this essay is my property–herein claimed by giving
you notice that this article is

Logoright (L) 1983, 1989 by J. Neil Schulman

and anyone who attempts to violate my property rights in this
logos should expect to hear from the legal firm of Smith &


Logoright (L) 1983, 1989 by J. Neil Schulman

The logos in this Work is its material identity, an “information
object,” separate from the materials upon which it may be imposed
or observed, which has been created as a unique structured
artifact by its author’s labors. Since each artifact resulting
from the labor of a person is, by natural right, by decency, and
by common law, beyond all limitations imposed by sovereign force,
the morally claimable property of that being, each use of that
property must be authorized by its owner, and all unauthorized
uses of it are tresspasses of a person’s natural rights and a
violation of that person’s spirit.

The Logoright notice is an explicit marking of that object to
declare to all that it is owned.

This Work is licensed for reading purposes only. All other
rights and uses, including the right to make copies, are reserved
to its Owner.

My comment just posted on “IP: The Objectivists Strike Back!” at

The reason I argue that “any conceptually identifiable ‘thing’ is ownable” — although I never put it that way — is that without identity differentiating things nothing could be ownable.

The reason that creation is the beginning of the moral case for property rights is that without creation nothing other than brute-force possession defines ownership.

As for “the obvious conundrum of people coming up with the same idea” that is just one of the questions I answered 25 years ago in my essay “Informational Property: Logorights,” newly available at

“Creation is a Person’s action which imposes that Person’s logos on something which exists to give that thing a unique identity it did not previously have. … If the respondent succeeds in demonstrating independent creation, then the petitioner’s original “creation” wasn’t inherently improbable, therefore questionable as a unique creation — and therefore possibly not property at all — for either of them.”

Another comment I just posted on “IP: The Objectivists Strike Back!” at

“I would also caution anti-copyright libertarians against assuming their conclusion in using anti-monopoly and ‘privilege’ rhetoric against copyright. Arguments against ‘monopoly privilege’ in the exclusive ownership of a logos ignore the fundamental difference between all property rights, which are monopolistic in the sense of being held exclusively, and monopoly practices, which are invasive.” –J. Neil Schulman, “Informational Property — Logorights”, at

My comment posted on the Austrian Economics Blog at

There’s another side to this argument in my article “Informational Property — Logorights,” newly reposted at

No one who takes property rights seriously can afford to dismiss property rights in information objects without refuting the proofs and the detailed discussion of objections I raise in this article.

Stephan Kinsella has been claiming since 1996 that he’s done so. Read it for yourself and decide whether you agree with me that he hasn’t.

From my replies to Stephan Kinsella at Query for Schulman on Patents and Logorights

I use a screenwriting program called “Movie Magic Screenwriter.” It’s not ethereal; it’s loaded on the same computer I’m writing this from, This currently existing commercial software software package can compare any two scripts and highlight the overlaps and differences between them. No speculation is involved. No counterfactuals. It merely uses a process memorialized in the Sesame Street song “One of These Things is Not Like the Other.” Only it can count higher than two.

If two scripts were written independently and correlate as the same (yes, a hypothetical), then neither one was original.

But in the real world, if you encounter this, what has happened is plagiarism, even if of an author lost to antiquity.

Creation requires something unique — a one-up. If two inventors independently come up with the same “invention,” the question arises whether what they did was not invention but discovery. The movie Flash of Genius is a great exposition of a real-life patent case which explains the process of correlation (and differentiation) between two claimants.

There is only one Atlas Shrugged.

There is only one A Christmas Carol.

There is only one The Rainbow Cadenza.

The processes of differentiation and correlation can prove whether or not they are unique creations. And if they are unique creations, they are the exclusive property of their creator.

“If the state exists, my IP claims however evaporate with the state, as do my claims to social security and medicare.”

Social Security and Medicare are state payments. Transfer of money taken by force from taxpapers.

My ownership of the things I’ve written are private property independent of the State and its copyright laws. I don’t own them because of a grant of privilege from the State. I own them because I made them and they’re mine by natural law and natural right. I took them from no one else. Their existence is dependent on one one but me. They would not exist except for my creating them.

According to Stephan Kinsella, writers make nothing and own nothing.

According to Stephan Kinsella composers make nothing and own nothing.

According to Stephan Kinsella architects make nothing and own nothing.

According to Stephan Kinsella digital filmmakers make nothing and own nothing.

According to Stephan Kinsella digital graphic artists make nothing and own nothing.

According to Stephan Kinsella Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, John Lennon, Charles Dickens, Robert Heinlein, Rudyard Kipling, Mark Twain, George Orwell, Ayn Rand, L. Neil Smith, and me made nothing and deserved to own nothing.

This is so ridiculous that I am ashamed that I waste my time responding to it. It is absurd and self-annihilating nonsense and those who believe it if they put this vile nonsense into effect kill the geese who lay the golden eggs — from a story by Aesop, who according to Stephan Kinsella made nothing and deserved to live as a slave.

I advocate the substitution of statist law with market-derived law, a position I have advocated since the mid 1970′s. So do I advocate the abolition of statist copyright and patent law? Absolutely — when the state’s tyrannical edicts are replaced by liberty.

All statist protection of property rights is flawed — and copyright law, patent law, and trademark law is as flawed as statist protection of any other “property” rights which involve violation of others’ natural rights.

All propery rights questions involve defining boundaries. Again, covered in my original article.

If I shine a flashlight on your land, am I committing photonic trespass? What if my flashlight triggers your burglar alarm and the ADT agents shoot you thinking it’s an intruder?

If I grow peanuts and peanut dust blows into your child’s bedroom and sickens your child who has a severe peanut allergy?

There is no property right that can’t generate extreme cases.

What I think you have most failed to understand in my defense of logorights is how high a bar logorights theory sets for a claim of exclusive ownership. Yes, my theory requires a proof of uniqueness before a property right can be claimed. Failing that standard there is no rightful claim of property right.

Stephen King’s new novel, 11/22/63, is about a time-traveling teacher who goes back in time to stop the JFK assassination.

Is his plot an infringement of my own Twilight Zone script, “Profile in Silver”?

The burden would be on my to prove that it would have been impossible for Stephen King to come up with that plot if “Profile in Silver” hadn’t been broadcast in CBS prime time, first. If I can’t, there’s no violation of my rights.

But if Stephen King has in his novel identical characters and story elements to my writing so numerous as to defy common sense for independent creation, then he’s committed plagiarism and he’s violated my rights. That’s common sense.

By the way, the only people who say that “nothing is original” are people who don’t trust their own powers of creation. That statement is the hallmark of the quitter.

Do you own a house with a county-issued deed, Kinsella? If you do, is the statist issued deed sufficient reason for you to abandon your property?

How about your car? You can’t own it without DMV permission in many states. Ooops. Statist laws. No property rights. Give me your car!

How about your kids? Agree to keep them in school so the county doesn’t arrest you for violation of truancy laws and place your kid in a state home? Or divorced and got a custody arrangement issued by a judge? Ooops! Not your kids anymore unless a statist judge grants permission.

There are no private property rights not in effect without permission of the State. You expect me to abandon my rights because the state actually allows me to keep some of my own property?

You’re not stupid. You’re not evil. You’re not trying to abolish all property rights. You’re merely mired in a three-century old Lockean paradigm of property rights that is so reductionist that it is ludicrous.

Lady Magdalene's

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A Rich Businessman Complains About Movies

Him: I’m so sick of movies that make businessmen like me the bad guy. All I want is to make money by producing products that people need, free from government bureaucracy. Why do Hollywood producers always portray businessmen as unscrupulous monsters like Gordon Gekko in Wall Street or Parker Selfridge in Avatar? Even in a movie like Alvin and the Chipmunks, the Chipmunks business manager wants to put them in cages and make them slaves. I don’t want slaves. I don’t want to win by making other people lose. I don’t want to kill the Na’vi. I like tall blue people with tails and cute talking rodents. Why do movies make me the bad guy?

Her: So why don’t you finance a movie with a script you like?

Him: I never thought of that. You mean all I have to do is find a script I like and write a check?

Her: Yes. And I know of a good one. It’s called Alongside Night. It’s based on a famous underground novel with lots of great endorsements, reviews, and awards. It was endorsed by Nobel Prize winner Milton Friedman. It was endorsed by Anthony Burgess, who wrote A Clockwork Orange. It won the Prometheus Hall of Fame Award. Ron Paul endorsed it. Glenn Beck raved about it on his radio show. The author is directing it from his own script. He’s already written and directed another movie called Lady Magdalene’s. He wrote for the Twilight Zone, the one where a future historian prevents the JFK assassination. Alongside Night reflects all your higher values. It will be exactly the type of movie you want to see!

Him: But how do I know the movie will be any good?

Her: The filmmaker is J. Neil Schulman. He already has Kevin Sorbo and Erick Avari cast in the movie. He has an Emmy-winning line producer. All you need to do is email Neil and he will send you everything a businessman like you needs to finance this movie. He will even make you an executive producer on the movie. If you want he will put your name above the title. All he needs is the financing to set a start date. And even if you don’t make money, you will have produced a movie which educates the public about the principles of free-market economics and individual liberty.

Him: But why should I risk my money? I’d rather just continue to bitch about movies I don’t like. Culture doesn’t matter anyway. Let only socialists make movies. I don’t care. I’ve only read one novel in my entire life. Atlas Shrugged. Actually, I didn’t even read it all the way. I just read John Galt’s speech and the sex scenes between John Galt and Dagny Taggart.

Her: You are an incredible asshole. I hope communists take all your property and throw you in prison. You are as selfish and stupid as they say you are. Eat shit and die.

Him: Okay, you’ve convinced me. I have learned better. I have changed my ways. Where do I send the check?

Her: J. Neil Schulman has a website. He has a blog. He is on Wikipedia and IMDB and He is on Facebook. He is on Twitter. He is on LinkedIn. You can Google him. Neil will send you the script and the budget. It costs less than you think. Google Alongside Night! In the name of all that is good and holy, Google J. Neil Schulman and Alongside Night! This movie might save you! The capitalist fortune you keep out of the hands of the socialist hordes might be your own!

Him: I would but I am only a cartoon character. So which rich businessman in the real world will do what I would do if I were real?

If you are a rich businessman as smart as this cartoon character, email J. Neil Schulman at so Neil can email you the movie script, budget, and everything someone would need to finance this movie. This cartoon is for entertainment purposes only and is not a solicitation to invest. And when Neil sends you information on what he needs to make the movie, that isn’t a solicitation to invest, either. In fact, nothing Neil ever says to anyone is a solicitation to invest. You have to beg Neil to put money into this movie and if he’s in a good mood he might agree to take your money. He just wants to save the world. No kidding.

J. Neil Schulman addresses LibertopiaJ. Neil Schulman addresses Libertopia

For a more serious discussion of why Alongside Night should be a movie, listen to my October 17, 2010 Libertopia speech, Reloading the American Revolution.

Alongside Night Scary Poster
Go to the Alongside Night Official Movie Website

This article and its links are Copyright © 2010 The J. Neil Schulman Living Trust. All rights reserved.

My comic thriller Lady Magdalene’s — a movie I wrote, produced, directed, and acted in it — is now available for sale or rental on Video On Demand. If you like the way I think, I think you’ll like this movie. Check it out!

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The Diary of Anna Francisco

Arizona’s governor just signed two laws in the past few days.

The first removes the requirement that to carry a concealed handgun legally in the state one needs a government permit.

The second authorizes state, county, and local police to ask for papers from anyone they have “reasonable suspicion” is in the country illegally, and makes harboring an illegal immigrant a crime.

I spent years “harboring” a man who was never legally classified a “permanent” resident of the United States. He was like a brother to me.

That he was from north of the border rather than south of the border should only matter to a bigot.

Nonetheless, he never applied for permanent resident status or a “green card.” He never filed income tax returns in the United States. He may have had a Social Security number issued to him when he was in the country legally as a graduate student; if so, I never saw him use it afterwards.

When he was stopped by police on occasion — for jaywalking, or on one occasion because his common-law wife swore out a complaint against him — he showed the police his Canadian passport, which satisfied them.

He crossed freely and repeatedly between Canada and the United States, and only had problems with American authorities once when his Canadian papers weren’t in order.

And he never worked as an employee for any American person or company; anyone who wanted his services had to pay the Canadian-based corporation he owned, which used a British bank with branches in the United States and Canada.

He died in the U.S. having overstayed his student visa by 29 years.

A United States Congressman spoke at his memorial service. So did businessmen who would have been happy to sponsor him for a green card and legal permanent residency.

My friend didn’t do that because, being an anarchist, he did not recognize the moral authority of the government of the United States to license and tax his residency, any more than citizens of the State of Arizona recognize the moral authority of their state to license and tax carrying arms. In both cases the argument is in favor of natural rights.

Now, the United States and Mexico did fight a war between 1846 and 1848, which the history books usually call the Mexican-American War. It was a territorial dispute. The United States military won the conflict and imposed on the Mexican forces in disarray the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. That treaty gave residents in the disputed territories a year to decide if they wanted to live in Mexico and be Mexicans or live in the United States and be Americans.

The problem is, the United States was a capitalist society with a tradition of English liberty and a Protestant work ethic and Mexico wasn’t. The country to the north thrived and grew a rich upwardly mobile middle class. The country to the south stayed pretty much as it had been, with peasants and aristocrats.

So the terms of the treaty haven’t held up very well.

The political justification of the second Arizona law just signed is that illegal immigrants are bringing with them criminal violence from Mexico to Arizona.

Today Mexico is a country overrun by gangsters who use violence to control monopolies on who gets the profits from the sale of illegal drugs to the United States. The gangsters even pay Mexican police and soldiers to work for them, so we sometimes have Mexican soldiers crossing into the United States on missions for these gangs. That meets the definition of either an invasion or espionage. The United States could put these Mexican gangs — and this invasion — out of business overnight by the simple expedient of legalizing these drugs and pulling the rug out from under these Mexican cartels.

Another political justification for the second law is that illegal immigrants partake of government or government-mandated services in the United States — schools, welfare, medical services — thus overburdening American taxpayers. Moving these services to the private sector, and removing the government mandates, would relieve American taxpayers of these burdens.

There are other political justifications for the second law. Mexicans who work off the books — not abiding by licensing and other bureaucratic requirements, not paying income taxes or FICA, not being unionized — can work cheaper than American workers burdened by these regulations, taxes, and price supports imposed by the lobbying of organized labor. Eliminating these regulations, taxes, and price supports eliminates the market advantage of working off the books.

So, basically, if illegal immigrants work for a living there’s a political objection to them, and if they don’t work for a living there’s a political objection to them.

This is known as “Heads I win; tails you lose.”

Now, the interesting thing is that the only objection any of the Framers of the American system of government would have been concerned about was the invasion by foreign soldiers. The rest was none of the government’s business.

There was no prohibition of drugs.

There was no welfare.

There was no income tax or Social Security.

The practice of medicine was paid for by a patient paying a doctor.

There were no labor unions.

There was no mandatory public schooling.

There was no minimum wage.

And there were no laws regulating immigration, except the importation of slaves.

There was hardly universal freedom, especally if your skin was black or you were a woman. But if you were a white man, you were free. It would take close to two centuries before blacks and women achieved full equality to white men under the law, but by then they achieved equality with white men who were no longer free.


Here’s a real irony. The Governor of Arizona doesn’t have a clue that by signing the first law she pretty much made the second law superfluous, at least as far as the Founding Fathers’ concerns. By allowing Arizonans to carry arms for self-protection, the Mexican invaders stand a good chance of having someone shoot back. They will find they do much better back in their own land, where the government officially disarms their victims. This alone will act to drive them out.

Many of the immigrants who came through Ellis Island decades ago had as little understanding of what made America special as Mexicans who come here today. All the older immigrants knew was that America’s streets were “paved with gold.” They didn’t understand the principles of free-market economics that made America different from the European and Asian sewers they were escaping from.

But they learned the advantages of freedom. If there’s not enough freedom left here for the Mexicans to learn the advantages of it, that’s hardly their fault.

Mexicans know Mexico is broken. They come here because America and Americans have a reputation of being a free and generous people. If we are less free than our reputation — and our government more profligate — whose fault is that?

Let’s fix the problem rather than fix the blame.

Eliminate the bureaucratic laws, market-entry-barriers and taxes that grant undocumented workers market advantage.

Stop punishing free-market hiring of labor on terms acceptable to buyer and seller.

Stop blaming Mexicans for wanting to escape from Hell. Let’s recognize them for what they are: not illegal aliens, but refugees from tyranny.

Mexicans are the new Cubans.

Anne Frank or Anna Francisco?

And if the law says it’s illegal to hide them so they won’t be returned to the tyranny they escaped from, consider that some righteous Americans will hide them in an attic, and future school children will read the Diary of Anna Francisco.


Winner of the Special Jury Prize for Libertarian Ideals from the 2011 Anthem Film Festival! My comic thriller Lady Magdalene’s — a movie I wrote, produced, directed, and acted in it — is now available free on the web linked from the official movie website. If you like the way I think, I think you’ll like this movie. Check it out!

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First Degree “Tradecide”

Any movie is brand new if you haven’t seen if before.

Anyone who’s not finding this column for the first time has read me talking about my making an indie movie titled Lady Magdalene’s, a suspense comedy that tells the story of an IRS agent sent to run a legal Nevada brothel in tax default.

The fictitious brothel in my movie is situated in Pahrump, Nevada — the town where I now live full-time — in Nye County, one of the eight counties in Nevada that doesn’t outlaw houses of prostitution. I live a ten-mile drive from the nearest supermarket but the two legal brothels just outside town are walking distance from my home.

One of these brothels is named The Chicken Ranch. It started operation in 1976, three years after a brothel named The Chicken Ranch in Fayette County, Texas, was shut down by order of Texas Governor Dolph Briscoe, shuttering a business that had been in operation since 1844. The Chicken Ranch near my house contains an exhibit of memorabilia from the original one in Texas.

Poster: The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas

While I was doing research for my movie I picked up a DVD of the 1982 movie musical The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, starring Dolly Parton and Burt Reynolds, but I never got around to watching it until last night. The movie was based on the hit 1978 Broadway musical which in turn was based on a 1974 Playboy article about an ABC/Eyewitness News Houston TV reporter named Marvin Zindler who — it eventually came out — had a “deep throat” in Texas Attorney General John Hill, who’d tipped off Zindler that the Chicken Ranch was being used to launder organized-crime money.

Hill’s tip to Zindler was groundless, if not an outright lie, as were Zindler’s charges that the Chicken Ranch bribed local officials to remain open, and that the women were being forced to work there by pimps. Nonetheless, Zindler made such an unholy ruckus on TV that even though the vast majority of Fayette County residents — and Sheriff T.J. Flournoy — considered The Chicken Ranch an honored local institution that supported civic projects and local charities, a statewide political climate proved toxic to the 129-year-old institution.

While it is far-less sexually explicit than the far-more recent HBO documentary series Cathouse — filmed at the Moonlite Bunny Ranch in Carson City, Nevada — the R-rated Best Little Whorehouse in Texas is candid in its portrait of the characters on both sides of the debate on houses of prostitution. Unlike Nevada, Texas law did not regard brothels as legal; nonetheless, local control was sufficient to keep it open well into modern times.

My attitudes on prostitution are well-documented through three decades of being an author. I don’t regard pimps who beat up women and take their money as indistinguishable from talent agents. But I regard any self-proclaimed feminist who doesn’t support a woman’s right to use her own body selling sexual satisfaction — while simultaneously arguing in favor of a woman’s right to have an abortion — to be far more corrupt than an honest whore.

In Chapter 14 — “Sex for Money” — of my book Unchaining the Human Heart — A Revolutionary Manifesto I wrote,

I doubt very much that any little girl dreams of growing up to be a prostitute. I doubt any father is thrilled to discover that his daughter has grown up to become one.

Let me also be very clear that in referring to prostitution I am not referring to a situation where any sort of force, threat, duress, intimidation, or dependency is used to make someone perform sexual acts for money. I’m not talking about kidnapping women or children and forcing them into sexual slavery. I’m not talking of a pimp supplying one of his women drugs in exchange for the money she gets from standing on a corner and offering herself to passing motorists.

So if the women are free from duress, and the contracts under which they’re performing their services are arrived at openly and honestly, I regard brothels as just another personal-service business — no more nor less corrupt than dentistry, hair-styling, or fitness training — and I regard a campaign by a TV talking head in secret cahoots with a politician to shut down an honest business with over thirteen decades of customer satisfaction behind it conspiracy to murder a livelihood.

I spent some time today coming up with words to describe the politically-motivated assassination of an ongoing profitable business, which satisfies a need and gives people honest work. I came up with busicide, markecide, bargacide, merchicide, entrecide, industricide, commercide, livelicide, workicide, crafticide, pursuicide, goodicide, and finally, tradecide.

Whatever you call it, it’s a sin. It should be a crime.

When I was living in California there was an Asian buffet restaurant at the corner of Lincoln and Wilshire Boulevards in Santa Monica named Mama’s Buffet. It offered a great selection of well-prepared food, sold at far more reasonable prices than other restaurants in the area. It was at least a half-hour drive from my apartment in Culver City but I ate there frequently, and introduced most of my friends and family to it.

Then one day, after I’d eaten there for years, I came to eat there and found Mama’s Buffet shut down, with no warning or explanation.

A few weeks later I ran into one of the cashiers while in a supermarket on Wilshire Boulevard, and I asked what had happened. It turned out that the owners of Mama’s Buffet had a family member who was using that address for a mail-order business. Since the Santa Monica business license was only for a restaurant, and not for a mail-order business, the City of Santa Monica took this business with over fifty employees — and a customer base who drove to it for miles around — and shut it down.

I’d always heard it called it the People’s Republic of Santa Monica. Now I knew how true that was.

As government continues to expand into every aspect of our lives, more and more businesses of every sort are going to run afoul of grasping politicians, looking to impose their tyrannies on us.

This sort of oppression may start with The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas but it ends with you.

It’s time for everyone who cares about the right to make a living to understand who their allies — and their enemies — are.


Winner of the Special Jury Prize for Libertarian Ideals from the 2011 Anthem Film Festival! My comic thriller Lady Magdalene’s — a movie I wrote, produced, directed, and acted in it — is now available free on the web linked from the official movie website. If you like the way I think, I think you’ll like this movie. Check it out!

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More Quotations from EasyChairman Neil

No, thank you. I don’t want to replace a Two-party system with a Tea Party system.

The 9th Circuit Appellate Court just upheld the words “under God” remaining in the Pledge of Allegiance. The ACLU is expected to appeal the case directly to God, since given how things are going in the United States the Almighty is likely to reverse the decision.

There is nothing innocent about any public service — even the public library … not when being late returning a DVD borrowed from the library turns a speeding ticket into being handcuffed and taken to jail. Rip up your library card. Netflix may cost more but it’s a whole lot safer.

Next up on the political horizon: The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, Exercise, and Fat.

Would someone please tell me when the financiers who fund movie productions decided to turn over the keys to illiterates who can’t tell the difference between an action movie and a Roadrunner-Coyote cartoon?

No, no, no! I’m sick of hearing radio ads for the U.S. Census with the socialist message, “It’s how we get our fair share of funding for the things we need.”

Here’s everything that the Constitution of the United States originally said about the census:

Article I, Section 3: “Representatives and direct taxes shall be apportioned among the several states which may be included within this union, according to their respective numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole number of free persons, including those bound to service for a term of years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three-fifths of all other persons. The actual enumeration shall be made within three years after the first meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent term of ten years, in such manner as they shall be law direct. The number of representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty thousand, but each state shall have at least one representative; and until such enumeration shall be made, the state of New Hampshire shall be entitled to choose three, Massachusetts eight, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations one, Connecticut five, New York six, New Jersey four, Pennsylvania eight, Delaware one, Maryland six, Virginia ten, North Carolina five, South Carolina five, and Georgia three.”

Article 1, Section 9: “No Capitation, or other direct, Tax shall be laid, unless in Proportion to the Census or enumeration herein before directed to be taken.”

The Constitution was amended so that slavery was no longer an issue, and that taxes could be laid on incomes without respect to enumeration (though this is still controversial).

So the only remaining purpose of the census is apportionment of Congressional representatives.

Nowhere in the Constitution is anything said about passing out spoils, tax money, bribes, and goodies on the basis of the counting of heads.

You won’t find “funding” in the Constitution.

So whoever is running these ads for the census, you’re lying. Please shut your pie holes.

“The number of representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty thousand…”

Which, if followed today — assuming a U.S. population of around 300 million — would give us a House of Representatives with 10,000 seated Congressmen.

I say, yeah!!!!!!!

I just watched socialist Michael Moore on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, plugging his anti-capitalism DVD, Capitalism: A Love Story. Meanwhile, I’m an avowed capitalist filmmaker who can’t get on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon to plug my movie, Lady Magdalene’s, which doesn’t yet have a distributor. Wouldn’t that make Michael Moore precisely equivalent to the character of tobacco publicist Nick Naylor, portrayed by Aaron Eckhart in Christopher Buckley/Jason Reitman’s, Thank You for Smoking?

It’s amazing to me that all the Greens who argue about finite resources never seem to focus on the finite resources that the State sucks up and destroys.

When all is said and done, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is a military prep school with a strong emphasis on preparing its students for college studies in hard science, and likely the military.

If I’d lived in the old West and was in the business of selling brands to ranchers to brand cattle, I think I would have called my business Brandy Brand Brands.

According to Wikipedia, ABC — which is broadcasting the Academy Awards as I write this — “first broadcast on television in 1948.” Just another failure of capitalism, since you’d think 62 years later there would be a GHI Network by now.

If only the Eighty-second Annual Academy Awards really lasted only eighty seconds. I just love Hollywood liberals twisting their brains into a pretzel voting for a film that isn’t actually anti-U.S. military just so they can screw the best film of the year — the one that actually revolutionizes making movies as much as the introduction of Sound or Technicolor — out of Best Picture and Best Director so they can have their politically correct “I am Woman” moment giving the award to the Best Picture Director’s ex-wife.

More and more I see my role as a cadmium control rod in that nuclear reactor we call America, trying to prevent a China syndrome, when the meltdown has already started.

Calls I don’t answer or return (1) Recordings; (2) Calls me by my first name; “Law offices of …” I pay for phone service for my convenience. Just because you phone me doesn’t mean I have to take any calls I consider annoying, by my arbitrary rules.

So who’s looking forward to Quentin Tarantino’s next movie being a documentary set at Sea World, San Diego — Kill Willy?

Too many books chasing too few readers.

Can someone start teaching symbolic logic again, starting with the basic Venn Diagram?

A psychiatric patient commits a violent act. Now everyone tries to disown him. Lefties say he’s a righty. Righties say he’s a lefty. Lefties and Righties try to blame him on the unaligned Libertarians.

Whatever John Patrick Bedell read it doesn’t explain his actions. There are accusations aplenty in all ideologies, sufficient to find a guilt-by-association for any faction of which one doesn’t happen to approve.

You draw the Venn Diagram, with circles for any ideological group you don’t like. There will be some inevitable overlaps with the circle of Violent Psychiatric Patients, because they seek out such groups.

The illogic of guilt-by-association of the groups themselves for the overlap with Bad People who do Bad Things has sometimes been called McCarthyism, but everyone does it, from Bill Maher to Glenn Beck.

What everyone here might consider is that setting us at each other’s throats — Caesar’s old scheme of divide and conquer — is something the really bad guys are good at to keep us away from their gates.

In reading the Supreme Court argument in the McDonald case, I wonder whether the liberal justices would be happy if First Amendment rights vanished when one left one’s own home — as they suggest is possible for the Second Amendment?

No argument about the Democratic leadership. But take some spice from Dune and look at the alternative world where John McCain won the 2008 election — and with the support of both parties leadership passed cap and trade (McCain believes in global warming), bail-outs and stimulus packages, government takeover of health insurance (McCain just introduced a bill to give the FDA the power to ban health supplements which are keeping me alive), and a Neocon foreign policy of globalization, US as world policeman, and nation-building.

You ever notice how spaceships use the moon for a “slingshot” effect to get an extra boost? Politics can work the same way.

If I had “held my nose” and voted for McCain in 2008, today we would have had both major parties pushing for increased statism and no opposition party.

Instead I voted for Obama, and the Republican rank and file are finding that they win support not by supporting bailouts, cap and trade, and more socialization of the economy, but by opposing it.

Sometimes you win by losing first.

The third Shrek sequel, Shrek Forever After, is opening the 2010 Tribeca Film Festival. Thank you, Robert De Niro, for financing your festival with submission fees from thousands of starving independent filmmakers like me then using our hard-found money to highlight high-budget studio sequels!

I submitted Lady Magdalene’s to all the major film festivals — sometimes more than once — which took submission fees ranging as high as a hundred and twenty bucks — some of them from thousands of filmmakers each year — then turned around and used the money to promote major studio releases.

This year it’s Tribeca opening with a Shrek sequel, but the gone-and-not-missed CineVegas took hundreds of thousands of bucks in submission fees from indie filmmakers like me … and opened its festival a couple of years back with Oceans 13 — the second sequel to a remake.

It’s disgusting.

I submitted for the 2007 and 2008 Tribeca Film Festivals, not 2010. After they took my money twice and sent me emails telling me how many swell submissions they got so they weren’t accepting my movie for festival play I decided not to throw good money after bad.

My point is, these big “indie” film festivals take submission money from thousands of indie filmmakers, pick a few to play at their festivals like they’re lotto winners, then spend the indie filmmakers moneys giving free publicity to major studio releases.

And let’s say more people attend a festival because they get to see a studio release. It does no good for the filmmakers whose money they took and didn’t accept their films. And if they sell extra tickets to fill the theater, the festival keeps all the money — not a dime of festival box office is shared with the filmmakers.

And the chances of an indie film making a sale to a distributor because of festival play are minuscule anyway.

No, there aren’t any refunds if your movie isn’t accepted for play at a festival.

It’s a real sucker play, worthy of Bernie Madoff.

I’ve been thinking a long time about how I’d run a film festival.

First, I would not charge filmmakers a submission fee. If they wanted to buy an ad for their film in the program book — not a requirement for submitting their film — they could do that. But that’s the only thing I’d consider charging a filmmaker for, since they’re providing their film to the festival for free, and the festival is selling tickets and not sharing the receipts with them. Some festivals find all sorts of things to charge filmmakers for — award banquet tickets, press conferences, premium display of posters, etc. This makes the festival concentrate on squeezing revenue out of the very people it should be supporting — the filmmakers who have already struggled with the costs of making the movie which the festival is going to sell tickets to see!.

The festival should make its money off ticket sales, sales of refreshments, sale of memorabilia.

Sponsors and advertisers should pay for the rest, and provide product placements. At the San Diego Black Film Festival all the parties were hosted by Tommy Bahama rum and vodka — which provided both free food and an open bar.

One other thing. I think there should only be one track of film programming. Films at a festival shouldn’t have to compete for audience with other films. Run the festival extra days if necessary.

A movie theater setting isn’t required, but there should be theater quality projection of films — and that means high-definition players and projectors should be used, and nowadays that means Blu-Ray disk — as well as standard-def DVD — should be the main projection formats, in addition to 16 mm and 35 mm film.

Sound is important.

And seating needs to be comfortable, when you have people sitting for entire days.

One big advantage of existing theater seating is that it can be raked — that is, you don’t have a flat floor where people can’t see over the heads of the people in front of them.

Or, the screen can be raised. But that means people will get stiff necks from looking up.

Plenty of bathrooms. Plenty of water.

And decent security, so people don’t steal the filmmakers’ posters.

Publicity, promotion, and advertising is crucial.

And this is the most important thing:

The movies selected for play have to be appealing to the audience. If it’s all depressing movies about how much everything sucks — artsy fartsy, nihilistic, evil-always triumphs stuff — don’t bother inviting me. I like uplifting movies with heroes, great music, great stories, and lots of laughter and pathos.

Prioritizing entries?

1) Every film submitted needs to be watched all the way through by someone with some cred, who will fill out a form on whether it meets the various criteria the festival is setting as its standards for selection, and add up the points in each category for a numerical score. Categories might be quality of writing, acting, directing, editing, cinematography, music — etc. Plus somewhere the viewer can notate that a film was so good it knocked them on their ass.

2) I would eliminate from consideration any film which already has distribution through a studio.

3) A film festival is a convention, and needs some experienced people running it — and probably a lot of volunteer labor.

There’s a start.

Without Facebook and the rest of the Internet I’d be stuck in the middle of nowhere and no one would even know I exist.

The truth is, a book has to be a bestseller before it gets banned. I’m still working on that.

I tried eHarmony,, and … but my computer didn’t like the other computers I tried to set it up with.

When I was in seventh grade I could have written a better re-commitment to founding principles than the Mount Vernon Statement. If this list of non-specific, warmed-over clichés is the best the conservative movement can come up with, they can pack it in right now.

I’ve been in long debates making the argument that refusing to recognize property rights in material identity leads to universal identity theft — plagiarism and forgery. In the absence of a theory of property rights in Identity presenting someone else’s informational creations as your own would not be theft because no property rights would have been violated.

If you don’t regard plagiarism as a violation of the author’s property rights, don’t come back at me claiming to be a defender of anyone’s property rights in anything. Global warming causes blizzards? Tell me how sticking my hand in boiling water causes frostbite. How abstinence causes pregnancy. How I can lose weight by eating 5 pounds of bacon, waffles, and ice cream every day. At a certain point this sort of mendacity becomes criminal, the sheriff is called to remove the public nuisance, the snake-oil salesman is tarred and feathered then driven out of town on a rail.

This whole climate change business is a bunch of retards trying to figure out climate using an Etch-a-Sketch.

A question for my skeptical anarchist friends. Is there anything in our worldview that makes it at all unlikely that if an extraterrestrial craft had crashed outside Roswell, New Mexico in July 1947 that the United States Army wouldn’t have been ordered to collect all crash debris and bodies, and in the name of national security threaten and discredit all witnesses into a six-decade-long ongoing cover-up?

It’s not a secret. There’s a movie about it titled Roswell. It’s part of the pop culture. But any hard evidence of an ET crash landing at Roswell — the debris and bodies that Isaac Asimov said he’d need to be convinced — is, if it happened, still being kept secret by the government, along with a new “explanation” every decade or so. The last one was a spy balloon. The trouble is, I’ve met Dr. Jesse Marcel, Jr., and he knows what his dad Major Marcel showed him debris from in July 1947 — and it wasn’t any sort of balloon.

Jews don’t expect anyone to be perfect. Not even God.

Precisely how do Christians expect Jesus to perfect their character? Neurosurgery? Brainwashing? Zapping with Gamma Rays? Or simply a continuation into the Afterlife of what we’re already doing here on earth: working on ourselves, trial and error, and — well — living?

Not once did God ever ask me to call him Master. Why then, in the name of God, would I ever call another mortal man Master?

If you catch me staring blankly, ignoring everything around me, for minutes at a time, don’t worry, I’m probably not dead or just had a stroke — I’m just writing.

Why was a Bobble-Head Doll placed behind President Obama during his State of the Union address yesterday? It was very distracting. Oh, wait a second. That was Vice President Biden, wasn’t it?

Aslan, in the Narnia books, tells Lucy Pevensie that one can never know what would have happened. In Frank Herbert’s Dune, one needs to be mainlining spice to see alternative timelines. Yet, Timothy Geithner has the chutzpah to tell Congress that he knows the economy would have been worse without the AIG bailout?

I’m thinking of starting a club that gets us down to one meeting a month: libertarian-science-fiction-anti-War-pro-Second-Amendment-Toastmasters-Weight-Watchers-Speed-Dating. Who’s in?

If there is life after death then there is economic life after death, because the axioms of praxeology apply to immortals equally well as they apply to mortals. Volitional consciousness, itself, necessitates the desire to act, thus Nirvana is only achievable if death is real.

Would someone tell Fox News that George Washington was the father of the country, and that you don’t get to be father of the country by being elected president? Geez. These people really do literally believe in paternalistic government, don’t they?

I just saw Hannah Montana: The Movie on Starz. It’s a cute, funny movie and Miley Cyrus has one of the best singing voices I’ve ever heard. Before anyone calls me a pervert for liking a Disney movie starring a 16-year-old girl, am I also no longer allowed to like The Jackson Five or Stand By Me?

Should Ben Bernanke be fired for looting the economy of the United States of America? Absolutely. Preceded by a blindfold, a last cigarette, and “Ready … Aim …”

The purpose for SETI is to discover life on other planets … so we can sell them shit.

My comic thriller Lady Magdalene’s — a movie I wrote, produced, directed, and acted in it — is now available for sale or rental on Video On Demand. If you like the way I think, I think you’ll like this movie. Check it out!

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Have Your Next Tea Party at Starbucks!

Big business, merely by being successful, is a target of those who hate private enterprise. And even though Dunkin’ Donuts, 7-Eleven, and McDonalds may sell more cups of coffee every day, Starbucks — with over 16,000 locations worldwide, including over 11,000 in the United States — may well be the signature brand of retail coffee today.

Like WalMart, Starbucks is immediately controversial because its employees are not unionized. That’s okay with me. Starbucks is already known for its premium prices. I can’t imagine what a tall Mocha Frappuccino would cost if blended by union members.

There’s a Facebook Group with over a thousand members named “Fuck Starbucks!” based on an old and refuted urban legend that Starbucks once refused to send its coffee to U.S. Marines deployed in Iraq, telling them, “We don’t support the War or anyone in it.” This group urges those who support the military to boycott Starbucks. It would be ironic if right-wing activists were boycotting Starbucks because of an urban legend started by left-wing union organizers as a way to strong-arm Starbucks.

Contrary to common opinion regarding the Starbucks barista, it’s definitely a job for skilled labor. My daughter worked at Starbucks while in high school, and showed me the procedural manual every employee had to master, detailed to the point of what vocabulary to use while describing coffee flavors to inquiring customers. The word smoky is a charmer. But mastering the full manual of these procedures might daunt a NASA astronaut.

In an age when Tea Party is supposed to describe a political movement, I’ve often wondered at how few actual beverages are involved. I mean, the actual Boston Tea Party was a minor bit of terrorism to protest a tax on tea. It was a one-time deal. Nobody was going out every weekend dumping tea in Boston Harbor. It’s no wonder the focus of a movement that started out with Ron Paul supporters looking for something else to do when the 2008 candidacy of Ron Paul ended quickly lost its focus, then becoming targets for hostile takeovers by establishment Republicans and neocons.

But Starbucks — which does actually sell real cups of tea — now finds itself, willy nilly, at the center of a controversy that would be of interest to many real grassroots Tea Party activists.

It started out when advocates of “open carry” — the wearing of handguns either in a visible holster or belt, as opposed to carrying concealed — took a page from the gay activist procedural manual, and started outing themselves in public. Several at a time, as a way of norming the practice, they’d visit high-visibility places of business — like Starbucks — wearing visible sidearms.

Eventually, of course, this news made its way to the Brady Campaign, who decided to try putting pressure on various businesses — like Starbucks — to declare themselves “Gun Free Zones.”

Now, pressure campaigns like this are usually successful. Corporations loathe controversy. Retail chains with sporting goods departments — such as K-mart and WalMart — quickly caved in to demands, years ago, that they stop selling firearms and ammunition in their stores.

So it must have been a shock to the Brady Campaign when Starbucks — not known for being in the slightest right-wing-oriented — declared that private citizens were welcome to openly carry their firearms into any Starbucks location where local law did not restrict it.

This is more supportive of the Second Amendment than an independent hair-styling kiosk renting space in my local WalMart in Pahrump, Nevada, which has a prominent sign declaring that no weapons are allowed.

I have spent more than a few words writing on the topic of firearms, crime, and self-defense. I’m the author of a book titled Stopping Power: Why 70 Million Americans Own Guns, about which Charlton Heston wrote, “Mr. Schulman’s book is the most cogent explanation of the gun issue I have yet read. He presents the assault on the Second Amendment in frighteningly clear terms. Even the extremists who would ban firearms will learn from his lucid prose.”

I’m also webmaster of the World Wide Web Gun Defense Clock, which calculates that “Every 13 seconds an American firearm owner uses a firearm in defense against a criminal.”

Since my birthday in 2007 — the date of the Virginia Tech massacre — I have been giving away free downloads of the PDF edition of Stopping Power, and only the free 30th anniversary edition of my novel Alongside Night has racked up more downloads from my fans. Coming up on three years and Stopping Power is still getting around 500 downloads a month.

G. Gordon Liddy, in his 2002 book When I Was a Kid, This Was a Free Country, quoted extensively from my September 13, 1991 Gun Week article, “The Unabridged Second Amendment,” in which I interviewed English usage expert, Roy Copperud, on the meaning of the Second Amendment. Liddy didn’t bother attributing the material he quoted from my article, but what would you expect from one of the world’s most famous convicted burglars?

Writing about a private citizen carrying a firearm for self defense — and using it successfully — also got me blacklisted.

As recounted by former CNN correspondent Dan Gifford in an email he sent out on March 23, 2006:

Neil Schulman is a talented man who has been screwed by Hollywood liberals. The “LA Law” gang was in love with him until he wrote an “LA Times” piece about the way the media ignores incidents where armed citizens stop crimes in progress. There was a local example he used to make his point. That contradicted the liberal politics of the writers. They dropped him and, according to what I heard, put his name on the whisper blackball grapevine. I first heard about the incident from my fellow ACLU board members during a meeting. He wrote one of the more poignant “Twilight Zone” episodes (JFK is alive and teaching at Harvard) and is an example of the very liberal McCarthyesque bias we are all trying to expose and end.

So I actually do know something about the utility of private citizens carrying guns openly for self-defense.

Which is why I started a Facebook group of my own — RKBA Supporters for Starbucks — and yesterday launched an event encouraging all supporters of the Right to Keep and Bear Arms to make a visit to their local Starbucks this coming week.

I wrote,

Buy a cup of Tea (or Coffee) at Starbucks to thank them for supporting the Right to Keep and Bear Arms!

Starbucks has taken the rare step for a major corporation of refusing to buckle under to pressure from the pro-gun-control Brady Campaign in its decision not to ban open-carry of handguns in those of its locations where it is legal to do so. In refusing to make Starbucks a “Gun Free Zone” Starbucks is recognizing the protective value of private citizens carrying firearms for defense in the event of a terrorist attack or criminal takeover of the store.

Simply by refusing to be more restrictive in its locations than local law permits, Starbucks is recognizing that “Gun control increases violent crime by shifting the balance of power to favor criminals while it disarms helpless victims.”

If Starbucks policy had been in effect in locations ranging from Luby’s Cafeteria in Waco, Texas, to Virginia Tech, to Fort Hood, mass-victim massacres by unopposed illegally-armed criminals, crazies, and terrorists might have been stopped on the spot.

Supporters of the Right to Keep and Bear Arms need to show their support of Starbucks for their sensible and caring approach to the safety of their customers by frequenting Starbucks, displaying Starbucks logos and merchandise in their cars, homes, and workplaces, and thanking Starbucks employees and managers for their continuing support of the Bill of Rights which protects us all.

As soon as I created this group and posted my event, I got a message from my Facebook friend, Bruce Sommer, who wrote me, “While I applaud Starbuck’s respect for open carry on its premises, I can’t respect their opposition of the entire concept if self-ownership as reflected in their view of the war on the American people that is the war on some drugs.”

I replied to Bruce, “If we don’t reward corporations with extra business when they do something right, they won’t give a damn about us when we decline doing business with them when they do something wrong. A carrot and stick approach requires occasional carrots.”

Apparently I wasn’t the only guy who thought Starbucks needed carrots.

Dr. Ignatius Piazza, Founder and Director of Front Sight Firearms Training Institute headquartered in Aptos, California, wrote on their website today,

To thank the Starbuck’s organization for setting a stellar example of proper corporate policy, I will provide a $2,000 bonus to every Starbucks’ employee in the form of a Front Sight Four Day Defensive Handgun Course. All a Starbuck’s employee has to do is select a Four Day Defensive Handgun Course date in 2010 from our website course schedule at and complete the Course Application. (We run the courses almost every weekend except during July and August.) After completing the Course Application, attach a copy of a current Starbucks paystub to the application instead of the $2,000 course fee and mail the completed application so we receive it at least two weeks before the course date. We will then place you in the course and e-mail your course confirmation materials. I look forward to training the entire Starbucks organization to a level of skill with a handgun that exceeds law enforcement and military standards. (Then Starbucks really could change their logo to an armed Mermaid!)”

So, please, do something this coming week to drive up Starbucks’ sales, and politely let them know that these extra sales are coming from gun owners and supporters of the Right to Keep and Bear Arms.

This could turn out to be the most powerful cup of coffee in the world, and would blow your cappuccino head clean off.


My comic thriller Lady Magdalene’s — a movie I wrote, produced, directed, and acted in it — is now available for sale or rental on Video On Demand. If you like the way I think, I think you’ll like this movie. Check it out!

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Any Profit in Being a Prophet?

How do you pay your bills? Got a job? A stipend? Live off an annuity? Receive interest income? Collect rent? Turn in recycling? Stand on street corners with a sign?

Me, I don’t have those sources of income, although earlier in life I held a lot of odd jobs like most people struggling to establish themselves in any hard-to-break-in profession.

I make things and try to sell them, things that are mostly written or filmed.

I’m an artist and a communicator.

Of all the various job titles I’ve put on my resumé, this is what it comes down to. I’m a writer but only on rare occasions has someone else hired me to write.

I’ve written, produced, and directed a movie — but I hired myself on that gig.

So if I want to stay in business, it’s Job One to create a brand out of the name I stamp on my products: J. Neil Schulman.

On occasion, when I had money, I’ve engaged the services of professional publicists for projects I’ve worked on — most recently, in 2007, when Nichelle Nichols and I were bringing our movie, Lady Magdalene’s, to the DragonCon in Atlanta.

But most of the time, I’m on my own. If I don’t promote my brand, nobody else will. I’ve had to learn the skill sets of writing news releases and ad copy, graphic arts production, website design, and publishing tools.

That’s why I have lots of websites promoting me and my products.

That’s why I have accounts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, IMDb, Withoutabox, and elsewhere.

That’s why I spent years of my life working to start up media companies to open up new distribution channels that don’t require millions of dollars in capitalization.

A lot of that work was in the field of eBooks — but that word hadn’t yet been invented when I started my first company to try doing it in 1987. Back then I had to find my own marketing label for this new product, and I called them “paperless books.”

Yesterday Steve Jobs of Apple stood in front of assembled media who had gathered because he can afford his own publicists, and showed off his new product, the Apple iPad. It’s just about the ideal device for reading paperless books. I know because I’d needed such a device to make paperless books as attractive a product as printed books, going back to 1989, when I first started selling them.

Here is a description I wrote in an email on July 23, 1997, of what an eBook reader would have to be:

I have always thought the e-book reader needed the following features:

Weight — no more than 2 lbs (the weight of a large hardcover) with under 1 pound preferred (the weight of an average hardcover).

Screen size needs to be about 9″ vertical and 6″ horizontal, with the maximum dimensions of the device being 10″ X 10″ X 1″. The space under the screen needs a touch-control mousepad and some basic function keys like arrows, home, end, page up, page-down. The QWERTY keyboard should be a pressure-sensitive slate hidden inside the device and slide out when needed. The screen should be a good quality color-VGA backlit screen. There shouldn’t be anything like a flip up or flip out cover or anything that would make it inconvenient to read while lying down or in cramped quarters. It should operate for about five or six hours on a battery charge; and be able to shove in a replacement battery pack in seconds.

The software? Probably the Mac OS or Windows 95 or whatever succeeds them in the marketplace. The software needs to be able to run web browsers such as Netscape and Internet Explorer, Adobe Acrrobat’s reader, and probably MS Word 6.0 or later — the three current distribution formats.

There needs to be an easy way to get data in and out, and save to disk: probably an internal modem or a PCMCIA card port. And, it would be nice if there were a floppy drive so books could be easily transferred from other laptops and desktops.

In other words, it needs to be a fully functional handheld computer, but optimized for reading rather than other uses.

Yep. And, it needs to sell for $500 or less.

THEN we’ll have a device that can compete with printed books.

I put that on my Facebook page yesterday, with a link to Apple’s product page for the iPad.

I also sent it out in an email to friends and business associates with the subject line, “J. Neil Schulman, prophet again!”

Yes, the subject line was patting myself on the back.

Yes, it was blatant self-promotion.

Yes, it was a bit over the top.

Yes, it was designed to grab attention.

I did it because if I don’t promote my brand myself, nobody else will.

I did it because if I don’t take credit, there’s no Santa Claus to give it to me wrapped up for Christmas.

And if my brand can’t become popular, there’s no chance for me to pay my bills with the literary and other media products I stick my brand on … and my voice is silenced to speak out for any cause or issue that’s on my mind.

I can’t afford to be a prophet if I can’t make a profit.

Yet, I got the following email in response, today, from David Nolan. He’s known as the founder of the Libertarian Party in 1972, and there’s a graphic called the Nolan Chart which is supposed to define who’s a libertarian and who isn’t.

Here’s David Nolan’s response to my email:

Well, gosh, Neil. When I was about 15 years old, half a century ago, I wrote a short story in which I predicted that credit cards would replace paper money. Maybe I should send out a message saying “Nolan prophetic once again!” Or maybe I’d just look like an ass if I did.

Wow. Harsh. Buzz-kill.

Another old friend of mine, Emmy-winning film producer Mike McNulty, sent me this response:

And so why didn’t you build one a dozen years ago? Ahh, that’s where the magic comes in, huh Neil.

Yeah. But that “magic” requires capital, and I didn’t have that.

So, one more “friend” trying to take me down a peg.

I did get one email that read, “You should write to Steve Jobs about your visionary tech ideas, and verifying your early involvement. Someone like you is just weird enough that it is conceivable that Apple might have interest in you as a consultant. I’m serious.”

Now that was a picker-upper. That one made my day.

Paraphrasing Hyman Roth to Michael Corleone in The Godfather: Part II: This is the business I’ve chosen.

I learned a long time ago that jabs come with the territory.

But I can do without “friends” who tear me down just because I got one right.

My comic thriller Lady Magdalene’s — a movie I wrote, produced, directed, and acted in it — is now available for sale or rental on Video On Demand. If you like the way I think, I think you’ll like this movie. Check it out!

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A Five-Point Plan to Save America, Haiti, and the World

I’m not an economist, but I have studied economics.

I’ve been described as a science-fiction writer and a futurist.

More than a couple of times I’ve made projections about the future — not only in fiction, but also in business plans — that have turned out close to the mark.

I’ve come up with one or two billion-dollar market cap ideas that made billions of dollars … for someone else.

These are the credentials I’m standing on when I offer a solution to the political and economic crisis that has weakened the economy of that geo-political entity called the United States, but which in reality is comprised of people, what they do, what they have access to, what they count on, and what is expected of them.

The United States of America as a geo-political entity is doomed.

That sector of the American economy tied to the entitlements and obligations of its federal and state governments — and whose capital and obligations are calculated in terms of a dollar issued by its secretive central bank — is “upside down.” Its debt and obligations far exceed the capital owned by and current productive capacity of its people.

The two alternatives, when reduced to essentials, come down to either a bankruptcy involving a repudiation of debts and entitlements — which means some people are going to be thrown to the wolves, and many will actually die — or a bankruptcy involving a reorganization that can lead to a real recovery.

This second plan involves risk and courage. But if it’s put into action, economic salvation lies this way because it relies on the one proven cure for any sort of poverty: the creation of new wealth.

Discussing only currently existing debts, obligations, and entitlements — which are the limits of all mainstream political, economic, and financial debates — is moving around the deck chairs on the Titanic. It’s playing zero-sum or negative-sum games in which the outcomes are already known: chaotic collapse.

Until now the collapse has been put off by a Ponzi scheme in which new marks were found to pay dividends to the older marks.

But the mathematics of all Ponzi schemes reach a point where the number of new victims needed to keep the scam going exceeds the number of new victims available.

We’re there.

The only benevolent solution is to close out the game — so no more new victims are added — and simultaneously to prevent the pyramid collapsing in on itself so rapidly that the victims are thrown to the wolves, to live or die.

I propose here not the anarchistic solution of allowing a full-on rapid collapse with the chaos that would follow starving millions of victims but a minarchistic Five-Point Plan to capitalize the creation of new real wealth with the slow retirement of current debts, obligations, and entitlements.

Here are the essentials of the Five-Point Plan.

1. The free sector of the economy must be immediately capitalized with new real wealth. Much of this wealth exists in exploitable resources currently under the control of the federal and state governments. This includes mineral and energy exploitables that can be developed on land currently claimed by the federal and state governments. This land and these resources need to be devolved to the private sector, but kept out of the hands of economic oligarchs who will continue to keep them unexploited. I propose a national lottery for private ownership of these resources in which only real American citizens — not corporations, foundations, or other fictitious entities — may participate. Then the new, private owners must be given the freedom to develop and exploit these resources.

2. An economy grows when new products are brought to market, but capital is required to invent, develop, and market these new products. Economic action free from the tax of bureaucratic paperwork and entry barriers, burdens of taxes and fees, and the hidden tax of monetary inflation can enable much of this. But much capital is currently tied up in the operation of government, itself. Merely eliminating government jobs creates more unemployed people — and repudiating their pensions creates a counter-revolutionary class that would poison-pill any possibility of economic freedom. I therefore propose that instead of continuing to pay bureaucrats to interfere with progressive capitalization of new products they be given the opportunity to become wealthy themselves by converting the budgets of government departments into prize monies available to current government employees when they entrepreneur new businesses that successfully find customers willing to pay for them.

3. Calculation of wealth must begin to be based on actual market value rather than the bookeeping fictions of the Federal Reserve Banking system, which builds in the hidden theft of having increasing amounts of ledger balances chasing a relatively smaller amount of real goods. A date certain must be set on which only actual commodities such as precious metals may be used as money.

4. The size of government and its operations must be regressive rather than progressive. A two-percent reduction per annum in the real budgets of all government entities — and a devolution of services from the public to the free and competitive private sector — should work. This will require closing foreign military bases and retiring the current policy of foreign wars, world policing, and foreign military entanglements — in other words, a return to the United States operating within the confines of its constitution. National defense must be defensive rather than preemptive. Defense against terrorism must rely on a well-armed and well-regulated militia — that means American civilians like those who stopped al-Qaeda terrorist attacks on United Flight 93 on September 11, 2001 and on Northwest Airlines Flight 253 on December 25, 2009. And, yes, American military personnel must be armed at all times. No more Fort Hoods.

5. It’s necessary to look beyond the earth’s atmosphere to produce sources of new wealth. Some of the current real capital — land and mineralogical wealth currently under the control of the federal government — must be allocated to prize-money for achievements in the fields of lowering the cost to lift payloads into orbit and beyond, produce goods in space that can be sold on earth, and create industrial and colonial habitats in space.

For anyone looking at this Five-Point Plan who thinks it’s undesirable, impractical, or otherwise unachievable, consider the alternative:

Collapse, chaos and violent revolution.

Not just in the United States, but everywhere dependent on the health of the United States economy.

Haiti. Ethiopia. Russia. Saudi Arabia. Japan. China. Malaysia.

Choose your future.

My comic thriller Lady Magdalene’s — a movie I wrote, produced, directed, and acted in it — is now available for sale or rental on Amazon Video. If you like the way I think, I think you’ll like this movie. Check it out!

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An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Poverty of Nations

I write this on a day when three million of the poorest people on planet Earth — living in the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere — just had a natural disaster take from them even the little they had.

Twenty-three decades ago the Scottish moral philosopher, Adam Smith, published his book An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, and in doing so offered the first principles on which to found what may someday become a science of economics. It’s obvious from our current condition that economics is not yet a science, otherwise engineers could produce as predictable practical results for economics as they can for chemistry and physics.

Thus the production and delivery of plentiful goods to the Haitians would have been a done deal years ago. Their buildings would have been built to Tokyo standards and even a 7.0 earthquake on the Richter scale would not have devastated their country.

Or maybe that’s unfair. Maybe the principles of economics are sufficiently developed for practical applications and were simply ignored. In that way any rational analysis of the devastation in Haiti would in some sense be “blaming the victims” for their failure to apply the science needed to escape from their nation’s poverty.

It’s easy to do that as an intellectual exercise. That’s a lot of what you’ll be hearing from right-wing pundits today.

It’s heartless and inhuman to make that one’s first response to the pain anyone not psychically armored against empathy will feel.

But, as a practical matter — not being wealthy enough to pay even all of my own creditors — I am unable to add very much of my own to that Haitian relief effort which wealthier human beings than I will make.

The second emotion I experience following any disaster I see on the news is a feeling of dismal futility. I can contribute little but if I did not do even this the lack of my contribution would be submarginal.

You may call this the principle of Marginal Futility, and I am being only mordantly funny.

That’s why I now supplement my marginal futility to help the Haitians with the intellectual futility of examining why this is still a problem.

The first axiom of just about any school of economics is scarcity.

The Austrian School of Economics — the school of thought to which most current-day libertarians subscribe — treats anything less than instantaneous gratification of any desire as an object of scarcity. The way writers like Murray Rothbard put it is that if you desire a Coca Cola, it would have to be trickling down your throat at the instant you desire it otherwise you would need to take some action — even it’s only lifting the bottle to chug it — to satisfy the scarcity of Coca Cola in your throat.

Both by the first premise of Austrian economics — “Human beings act to remove felt unease” — and by empirical observation of the universe around me, I’ve concluded that everything — every thing — that exists is scarce.

There is only one of two conditions to escape economics, then.

The first condition is to desire nothing. That’s the teleology offered by Zen Buddhism, whose adherents desire a state of non-desiring they call Nirvana. This logically requires total unconsciousness because the conscious mind — being active — can still perceive something new to it and desire that new thing. Arriving in Heaven would be a disastrous outcome for the Zen Buddhists, since they’d still be conscious and thus capable of desires and actions to pursue them.

The second condition is to be conscious within a reality in which the moment any desire is detected it’s instantly gratified. Lust is instantly gratified by sex and orgasm. Hunger is instantly satisfied by taste. Thirst is instantly quenched. Every itch is instantly scratched. I believe a lot of Christians think that’s what Heaven would be.

Both Zen Buddhists and many fundamentalist Christians appear to idealize the condition of the fetus in the womb. It exists and — if it desires anything — that desire is instantly satiated.

Birth just ruins everything.

The conscious, active mind is incapable of existing in either of these conditions permanently. The mind stuck in either of these conditions will eventually atrophy and die from boredom.

Thus, economic scarcity is a fundamental condition of being sapient, whether as a mortal or immortal.

Heaven, itself, must have an economic life.

The pursuit of happiness is therefore an economic study as much as a spiritual study, and that is a universal truth.

I am a creative person by activity and profession. My professional life has been devoted to bringing into existence — or trying to — information objects — stories, scripts, novels, movies, and even inventions — that have not previously existed.

Three novels would not have existed if I had not written them.

One feature film would not have existed if I did not write, produce, and direct it.

There is at least one invention I have “on the drawing board” that will not exist unless I manage to get it produced, tested, and — if market-worthy — manufactured and offered for sale.

I do not believe in the concept of creation ex nihilo — out of nothingness. Therefore, all creation is working with the stuff you find around you and recombining what you find into new things.

As a practical matter, as well as in economic theory, nothing is so plentiful as not to be an object of desire.

Even the ocean is scarce if you live in the desert … or on a planet that doesn’t have one.

There are those who think there are already too many people and wish to reduce the human population by discouraging human fecundity. They think the earth has limited resources and if human population growth continues unabated our species will use them up.

But they have it just backwards. The only actual resource is intelligence, and every human body comes with the potential of being that mind which solves the problem of satisfying a need. So I say: the more minds the merrier. Be fruitful and both multiply and divide.

The solution for poverty is the creation of new and plentiful wealth. But as every indie filmmaker like me quickly learns, there’s nothing to distribute if you don’t first produce it.

That principle could have saved Haiti. And I hope it will before Haiti needs saving from some new disaster.

The wealth of this planet is the fruits produced by the free and individual human mind. That requires a society which values the free and individual human mind, and offers the protection of property rights in what they create.

The libertarian movement is now made up largely of intellectuals who do not believe that. They think because something can be copied that it’s not scarce and therefore the rules of economics state that it can’t be claimed by its creator as property.

They haven’t understood the first principles of economics. They don’t “grok” the pyramid of premises — from the “is” to the “ought” — which necessitates the recognition of property rights as the source of all progressive capitalism leading to human wealth. They left their common sense in their rear-view mirrors.

That’s one big reason I no longer consider myself part of the libertarian movement.

I just wrote a book called Unchaining the Human Heart — A Revolutionary Manifesto. It’s about the same length as The Communist Manifesto and Quotations from Chairman Mao (“The Little Red Book.”)

Feel free to start a new revolutionary libertarian movement around it.

But don’t expect me to be hanging around when it finally gets going.

Meanwhile, if you have a spare buck or two, find a way to get it to someone who might actually help the Haitians, rather than the usual thieves who will ask for your money then pocket it themselves.

It might be futile but then, what isn’t on this darned planet?

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